May 29, 2019


NEW YORK - In case you missed it today, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), appeared on CNN’S New Day for a conversation about holding President Trump accountable, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s hypocritical attempt to fill Supreme Court seats during an election year and Chairman Jeffries’ historic legislation to decriminalize marijuana.


JOHN BERMAN: Congressman [Amash] says a lot of Republicans think he's right about the Mueller report, but won't say it. Have you spoken to any Republican Members in the House who think that he's right about the Mueller report? 

REP. JEFFRIES: We haven't seen any evidence of that yet and in part that's because the Republicans have basically functioned like wholly owned subsidiaries of the Trump administration, not as a separate and co-equal branch of government. That’s been unfortunate. I applaud Congressman Amash's courage, but it doesn't seem to be in high supply on the other side of the aisle. 

BERMAN: You haven't been able to convince any Republicans, in other words? 

JEFFRIES: The Republicans don't seem willing to be convinced based on the fact that they are just subservient to Donald Trump. 

BERMAN: Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, last night made clear that if there is a Supreme Court vacancy, which we don't know that there will be next year, he would work to confirm whomever the president nominates for that seat. That is far different than 2016 when he held up the confirmation of Merrick Garland who was President Obama's pick. I know you think this is hypocritical. I know you think that this shows that Mitch McConnell just wants to control who gets on the court and not. I guess my question to you is do you see any evidence that Democrats will vote on this? How will you convince Democratic voters that this matters? 

JEFFRIES: I think Mitch McConnell is exhibit A as to why what happens in November of 2020 with respect to the Senate matters. He is a shameless individual and this does not just simply apply to his behavior as it relates to stealing a Supreme Court seat that Barack Obama had the right to present to the American people. This relates to the fact that House Democrats have passed legislation after legislation on issues like protecting people with pre-existing conditions, driving down the high costs of lifesaving prescription drugs, dealing with the anticompetitive practices of big pharma, universal criminal background check legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act because we believe that women should be paid equally for equal work. All of these bills have moved out of the House and sent to the Senate where it's a legislative graveyard right now and McConnell is negligent in doing the business of the American people. We think that the Supreme Court issue should be a voting issue in November of 2020 and his failure to act on the priorities of the American people that we have been working on as House Democrats should be a voting issue in 2020. 

BERMAN: Speaking of legislation, you are reintroducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana federally. First of all, why? And second of all, do you think this will get a vote in the full House? 

JEFFRIES: I'm certainly hopeful with the leadership of Senator Schumer in the Senate who has been driving this legislation forward along with several others. We’re building upon the FIRST STEP Act, which we passed in a bipartisan way in the last Congress, meaningful criminal justice reform to help currently incarcerated individuals successfully transition back into society and roll back some of the draconian sentencing laws that were put into place during the failed war on drugs. This is a bipartisan issue, Democrats, Republicans, the left, the right, progressives and conservatives. Marijuana reform, I believe, is the next step in this process.