photo: left to right, Greg David of Crain’s; Congressman Hakeem Jeffries; Congressman Jerrold Nadler. Credit: Dakota O’Brien
By Dakota O’Brien
The New York Athletic Club was host to Crain’s Business Breakfast Forum Thursday morning, as New York Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Jerrold Nadler discussed midterm elections, the goals of the Democrats in the House, and how New Yorkers are faring during the era of Trump.
This November, Jeffries and Nadler will be running for re-election, and they hope to see a swoon of new Democrats around the country going to Washington, D.C., with them.
The moderator of the event, Greg David of Crain’s New York Business, said some Democrats have been criticized for “running against Trump, but not for anything.” Nadler and Jeffries disagreed with the criticism. “We are running against Trump’s deprivation of people’s rights and the swamp of corruption his administration has put forth,” Nadler said.
Jeffries said the pre mid-term focus is on three issues: lowering health care costs and prescription drug prices, increasing wages, and cleaning up corruption in Washington.
This election season has already witnessed a wave of progressives making their voices heard in the Democratic Party, most notably when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ defeated incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District in Queens and the Bronx. For many, the young progressive’s ideas, like free healthcare for all, were considered too left or too radical. But veteran Congressman Nadler said the progressives were not impractical.
Like his fellow Democrat, Jeffries stated he supports Ocasio-Cortez’ ideas, but added that he believes her proposed policy changes “must be done in a fiscally responsible way.”
“We want to see new voices emerge to fight back against what’s going on in Washington,” Jeffries said. Jeffries has been called a “rising star” in the Democratic Party, and he has a history of pioneering social justice movements in both the House and the New York State Assembly, where he served as an Assemblyman from 2007 to 2012.
The two self-proclaimed “pragmatic progressives” said they wanted to strengthen the Affordable Care Act. When asked, “Will Democratic seats be lost in future elections because Democrats are leaning too far left?” Nadler calmly said, no. “People will support government doing things that help them, such as higher pay and affordable health care,” he said.
In addition to their dedication to affordable health care for all, both representatives said Democrats need to focus on immigration reform, especially providing citizenship for asylum seekers and “Dreamers,” as well as ensuring that immigration courts are independent from government interference. “You shouldn’t have to go to a detention center just because you are filing for asylum, which is what the Trump administration is doing,” Nadler said.
Nadler, if re-elected and if the Democrats win majority of the House this November, will be in the running for Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which is the committee responsible for impeachments of federal officials. “Impeachment should not be partisan,” Nadler said. “Impeachment should only take place if it has to be done for the sake of the country.”