New York City has two new members of Congress.
Hakeem Jeffries, representing the Eighth District in Brooklyn and Queens, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, Coney Island and Howard Beach, and Grace Meng, of the Sixth District in Queens, which stretches from Ridgewood to Bayside, were among the 84 new members of Congress sworn in Thursday.
“This is a historic moment for the entire New York City and especially the Queens community,” said Ali Najmi of Forest Hills.
Meng is the first Asian-American elected to represent New York in Washington. Two buses of her supporters made their way down to the Capitol. As they waited to see her, they huddled around a TV and cheered her on as she cast her first vote.
“We're very proud of her,” said City Councilman Peter Koo. “More than 100 people came today just to witness her inauguration. She will be a role model, a trailblazer for us.”
“I think that my story and my background reflects the life of so many immigrants who have come to Queens in decades past,” Meng said. “So I hope that people can relate. I hope that we can encourage more young people to get involved in their communities and government as well.”
Her constituents hope her background will give her an elevated position as the country gears up for a prolonged debate on immigration reform.
“It's a big Queens issue, and I think she, because of her family and life experience, I think she really understands that issue from a place that other people don't,” Najmi said.
With the House delaying a vote on the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Aid bill, securing funding for rebuilding and recovery efforts is foremost on the new members minds.
“We're going to fight to make sure that every last dime that we deserve comes back home,” Jeffries said.
They will vote on the first $9 billion installment of the disaster aid Friday.
Jeffries will serve on the House Judiciary Committee, where he hopes to tackle issues like gun control as well as immigration. Meng will sit on the Small Business Committee.