On November 6, 2012, Hakeem overwhelmingly won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the newly redrawn Eighth Congressional District of New York. He succeeds a thirty-year incumbent in a district largely anchored in Brooklyn and parts of Southwest Queens. Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Budget and Judiciary Committees. In the 113th Congress, he worked on reforming the criminal justice system, addressed gun violence and assisted neighborhoods in the district that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Through speeches on the House Floor, committee hearings and communication with the White House, Rep. Jeffries has strongly opposed efforts to balance the budget on the backs of our seniors. He does not support benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare programs, on which many of our seniors depend. Rep. Jeffries voted against the budget proposed by the House Majority in 2013, including a provision that would turn Medicare into a voucher program that would weaken this social safety net. He continues to work against the chained CPI proposal that will hurt the quality of life of seniors who rely on Social Security to survive.
Rep. Jeffries has worked hard to help residents impacted by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. During his first month in Congress, Rep. Jeffries fought to pass the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R. 152). This measure provides New York City with billions of dollars in federal assistance to help communities, such as those in the 8th Congressional District, recover from the storm.
He has also introduced The Superstorm Sandy Mortgage Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 554) and The Disaster-Affected Homeowner’s Notification Act (H.R. 1499). Together, these bills will relieve financially distressed homeowners of short-term mortgage payments and provide notice of available mortgage forbearance relief. Rep. Jeffries continues to fight hard to get this legislation signed into law.
Rep. Jeffries is a member of the bipartisan House Task Force on Over-Criminalization. The Task Force includes five Democrats and five Republicans from different cross sections of the country, all committed to addressing the explosion of the incarcerated population in America. Over-criminalization unnecessarily wastes human capital, hurts our economic productivity and strains government resources that would be better spent in other areas. After completion of a series of hearings during the next several months, the Task Force will undertake to reform the federal criminal code to better promote fairness and justice.
Last summer, Rep. Jeffries held a dozen “Congress on Your Corner” events throughout the district on weekends. At each event, he spent several hours out in the community in front of a post office, library or neighborhood institution meeting residents, answering questions and directing his staff to help constituents. Rep. Jeffries sets up his desk outdoors and all are welcome to attend. He recognizes that not everyone can come to his office during the day, so he brings his office to the community over the weekend. Rep. Jeffries looks forward to getting back out on the street next year.
Prior to his election to the Congress, Hakeem served for six years in the New York State Assembly. In that capacity, he authored laws that included protecting the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers during police encounters, encouraging the transformation of vacant luxury condominiums into affordable homes for working families, and improving the quality of justice in the civil court system. In 2010, Hakeem successfully sponsored legislation that prohibits the New York Police Department from maintaining an electronic database with the personal information of individuals who are stopped, questioned and frisked during a police encounter, but not charged with a crime or violation. This law is widely regarded as the only meaningful legislative reform of the police department's aggressive and controversial stop and frisk program. That same year, Hakeem sponsored and championed groundbreaking civil rights legislation to end prison-based gerrymandering in New York State, a practice that undermined the democratic principle of one person, one vote. With its passage, New York became only the second state in the country to count incarcerated individuals in their home communities for purposes of legislative redistricting, rather than in the counties where they are temporarily incarcerated.
Hakeem obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he graduated with honors for outstanding academic achievement. He then received his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Thereafter, Hakeem attended New York University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the Law Review. Following the completion of law school, Hakeem clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Prior to his election to the Assembly, he practiced law for several years at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, an internationally renowned law firm, and then served as counsel in the litigation department of two Fortune 100 companies, Viacom Inc. and CBS. He also worked as of counsel at Godosky and Gentile, a well-regarded litigation firm in New York City.
Rep. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital and raised in Crown Heights. He is a product of New York City’s public school system, having graduated from Midwood High School, and currently lives in Prospect Heights with his family.