In The Loop With: House Representative Hakeem Jeffries
3 weeks ago
It’s been an intense but productive adjustment to the House for the New York City congressman.
Remember ninth grade? You had to navigate an unfamiliar campus, find your locker, join a few clubs and make nice with the upperclassmen.
Well, that’s a reasonable facsimile of what the first month of 2013 was like for 42-year-old Hakeem Jeffries, a newly sworn in freshman member of the House of Representatives, representing New York City’s 8th Congressional District.
And he’s hardly wet behind the ears, having left the seat he occupied in the New York State Assembly after a six-year stint. He is one of the youngest members of the Congressional Black Caucus and envisions himself as part of a new generation of young, black leadership on Capitol Hill.
Jeffries describes settling in to Congress as an “intense” but gratifying experience. He’s been appointed to the House Budget and Judiciary committees, where he says he’s already dug in on the issues of job growth, immigration, gun violence and voting rights.
The last time we spoke to Jeffries, who is married with two children, he was in the middle of an exceptionally smooth race for the House seat. Today, we’ve got him on the record on several hot button issues before the Congress and his approach to his first term.
Loop 21: How are you adjusting to life in Congress?
Hakeem Jeffries: It’s been intense, but it’s an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to serve the people of Brooklyn and Queens. I’m hopeful that [Democrats and Republicans] can put partisan politics aside and get back to [enacting] policies to benefit our constituents back home.
You used the word “intense.” How exactly has it been intense?
The volume of issues that we have to confront on any given day are significant -- both in terms of their importance and their often pressing nature. It would be robust enough to have to deal with the issue of comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway for citizenship. Immigration reform is a highly complex issue with many different parts that must be synchronized in order to get it right.
Who has been the most helpful to you on Capitol Hill?
The chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marcia Fudge, has been tremendous in helping new, freshman African American members of Congress transition. Long standing members of this institution, such as the Honorable Charles Rangel and John Conyers, have also been extremely helpful with their sage advice, guidance and wisdom.
You are one of the youngest members of the CBC. Do you see yourself as part of a new generation of national black leadership in Washington?
From a generational standpoint, it’s clear to all of the members of the freshman class that we stand on the shoulders of giants who are both currently in the institution and who have served in the Congress in years past. The CBC has a tremendous legacy of accomplishment and advocacy. I look forward to doing as much as I can to continue to advance the CBC's mission going forward.