“The best is yet to come” was the theme of hope recently expressed by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08).
Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. In an effort to address the nation’s “move closer to normalcy,” Rep. Jeffries delivered his ninth annual State of the District Address, discussing a slew of initiatives thus far implemented and accomplished that will restore the district’s health status, safety plans and economic growth.
The session was held virtually for viewers to join via Facebook and YouTube. While Jeffries was keen to highlight and review all of the successes of his leadership, while working with his colleagues in Washington, D.C. over the past year, he did not include updates on specific projects or issues affecting the communities he represents in southeast Brooklyn and parts of Queens. His speech was also void of the ongoing war in the Ukraine/Russia and its impact here.
Instead, he recapped the success of the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which included millions of dollars that were allocated to providing more COVID vaccines and testing so that schools and businesses can reopen and flourish.
“Today, more than 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated,” he reported. “We’ve had enough of COVID, but it’s not clear that COVID has had enough of us.”
He went on to denounce ongoing inflation, which hits low-income families on a fixed income the hardest, and the need to lower prescription drug costs by negotiating lower prices with pharmaceutical companies.
In light of the gun violence gripping New York, Jeffries said, “We’re going to target gun trafficking at every level of government. We’re allocating funding for mental health programs for youths and fighting for universal criminal background checks of those who purchase guns. If you look at how our state was in the late 1980s and 1990s – with all of the violence our communities were facing then – we cannot go back to those days. We have to acknowledge that there are too many guns on our streets and improving public safety means cracking down on the 40% of weapons coming up from the south.”
Rep. Jeffries, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, also emphasized the need for police reform as police brutality cases increase nationwide. He went on to tout local programs that would improve public safety by investing in neighborhood policing programs and initiatives, many which include putting cops back on the beat to patrol the streets and repair the broken relationships they may have with the communities they serve.
Despite the existence of the city’s Build the Block program and Neighborhood Coordination Officers who are working to form a better relationship with residents, crime is still climbing at alarming rates.
The virtual session did not include feedback or questions from viewers, but Jeffries expressed confidence that the broad spectrum of bills passed by Congress will result in a stronger and more resilient state.