Skip to main content

tv   Rep. Hakeem Jeffries at AXIOS Event  CSPAN  February 14, 2019 1:24pm-1:48pm EST

1:24 pm
and work things out. mike: he had a baby grand in his senate office. what else? senator stabenow: in his office. [laughter] senator stabenow: i don't have a golf course or a range. i don't have that. mike: that's the most unusual thing you have seen in a hide-away or office? senator stabenow: probably the piano. i've seen, you know, sort of foosball. i won't tell you who had that. probably the piano. and it was -- but it was great fun. and i actually played -- he was very nice to let me play it more than once. i miss him dearly, actually. mike: well, this definitely explains a lot. the daughter of an oldsmobile dealer in michigan. senator stabenow: that's right. mike: senator, thank you for joining axios. thank you, madam, very much. [applause] mike: thank you, senator, for that great conversation. we have our last leader, but
1:25 pm
first a quick word from the bank of america. thank you for making this conversation possible. our next guest is the house democratic caucus chairman, fifth ranking democrat in the house, born in brooklyn hospital, raised in crown heights, went to new york public schools, rising star in the party, "the new york times" calls him a new face of house democrats. it's our honor to welcome to the stage representative hakeem jeffries. representative jeffries, elcome to axios. mr. jeffries: great to be here. mike: less than 12 hours ago i saw you on cnn. mr. jeffries: thanks right. mike: less than four hours ago you were being held hostage on msnbc. mr. jeffries: that's right. i feel liberated right now. mike: walking away from the breaking news about mueller, do you feel like that news is going to define the next two years? mr. jeffries: well, i think what's going to define the next few years is our for the people
1:26 pm
agenda. we are very clear in the few months leading up to the mid term elections that were we given the opportunity to govern, we want to focus on three things -- lower health care costs, increase pay for everyday americans, do a real infrastructure plan, and cleaning up corruption in washington, d.c. and so that's our forward-looking, affirmative kitchen table, pocketbook issue, oriented agenda and that's where we want to keep the focus on at the same time, you know, we have a responsibility to carry out our oversight functions in a responsible manner. mike: so you won the house leadership race and those are the most vicious races there are to be house democratic chair. you called it perhaps with a wink, you called it a friendly contest of ideas. mr. jeffries: well, that's correct. member aun member races are always -- member--on-member races are always difficult because there are relationships throughout all sides of the
1:27 pm
caucus and people have to choose one or the other. but, you know, i have tremendous respect for barbara lee. she's a great visionary member of the house democratic caucus. her voice, which is a strong one, will continue to be heard in a powerful way. mike: as you came on stage, you and i were talking about your work on the first step back, the historic criminal justice bill. what else do you think can be done between house democrats and the president? mr. jeffries: well, one of the things that we want to work on in the context of driving down health care costs is reducing the high price of life-saving prescription drugs. mike: which he said he's for. mr. jeffries: he came to the state of the union and i indicated that's something he wants to work on. our starting point is we believe the federal government through medicare should be given the ability to use its full price purchasing power to lower prices. that's what happens in industry. that's what the federal government should be able to do
1:28 pm
on behalf of the american people to ballot scales of the negotiation. he didn't come up to that line, but there's at least a baseline for us to have a discussion since he's acknowledged that we have to do something about prescription drug prices. mike: and so what would you say is the outlook for pulling off something real on that, that the president will sign over the next two years? mr. jeffries: well, from our standpoint, it's more likely than not, but because it seems to us that the president needs something affirmative to communicate to the american people. he's gotten done when the only meaningful piece of legislation from his vantagepoint is what we would refer to as the g.o.p. tax scam where 83% of the benefits went to the wealth nest 1%. we said from the beginning this was a fraud as it relates to working families, middle-class folks, and those who aspire to be part of the middle class. and now we are seeing millions of americans are being shortchanged in terms of the refunds that they expected to
1:29 pm
receive and are receiving much less. mike: ok. so more likely than not, something real signed on lowering the cost of prescription drugs. that's news for those of you tweeting along and #axios360. what about something on infrastructure? mr. jeffries: i think that's the other thing on opportunity to try to get something done. we have $1 trillion infrastructure plan that we think would help fix our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, mass transportation system, ports, airports, schools, as well as public housing developmentes that are crumbling all across the country. we also think it would create 16 million good-paying jobs over a five-year period of time. it's one of the central parts of our for the people agenda. again, the president mentioned it during his state of the union address, he only spent about nine seconds on it but we'll take that. better than nothing. in his acknowledgment that it's something that should happen. if we can do something
1:30 pm
bipartisan on criminal justice reform, seems to me we should be able to do something on health care and protect the people with pre-existing conditions. that was the defining issue of the 2018 mid-term elections. and then we should be able to do something about infrastructure. mike: while you were working on the first step act, a working relationship with jared kushner, what was like that like and do you think that will help with another issue? mr. jeffries: certainly around the first step act, one, i always want to shout out my partner, doug collins, who was the driving force behind that legislation. did a tremendous job and a lot of people were perplexed by the fact we were able to form this partnership initially between doug and myself. he's coon serve tiff republican from rural georgia. and i'm a progressive democrat from what often has been referred to as the people's republic of brooklyn. [laughter] mr. jeffries: doug and i
1:31 pm
decided this is something we needed to work on but we, of course, needed a white house partner. it became clear over time that jared kushner was sincerely authentically committed to getting something done in large measure as he would talk about because of his own personal experience with incarceration in the context of his dad who he would visit on a weekly basis. and he played a meaningful role. hopefully now there's an open line of communication between not just kushner and myself but kushner and several members who are important in the house democratic caucus like cedric richmond, who's the former chair of the congressional black caucus, who worked closely on this issue, that we can build upon it. mike: joe scarborough, "morning joe" i think you'll agree has not been a big booster and backer of president trump. he said this morning, joe scarborough said, with the green new deal, house democrats
1:32 pm
have given president trump his 2020 closing argument. making something unthinkable possible and as the president is being re-elected, he said house democrats have got to play smarter. what happened? mr. jeffries: well, i think putting aside, you know, the outside attention that tends to be focused on issues that seem to be project conflict, if you think about the journey that we've been on, it began with a 35-day government shutdown. ended with an unconditional surrender from donald trump. you know, he tried to flex his muscles as it related to the state of the union address. speaker pelosi has done a tremendous job, made clear we are separate and co-equal branch of government. we decide whether you get that microphone or not. and you're not going to get it in the midst of a reckless government shutdown. and we just negotiated a bipartisan deal. that is a win for the american people. but many people are interpreting it as a loss for
1:33 pm
donald trump from the context of, first, he said that he was going to build a wall from sea to shining sea and mexico was going to pay for it. they refused. then, over the last two years, republicans had the house, senate, presidency. he had a wall table that he walked away from. after two years of complete republican control. got nothing. then he shut down the government. tried to extract the $5.7 billion ransom note from us because he was holding federal workers and the american people hostage. we refused. anchored in the principle that shutdowns aren't a legitimate negotiating tactic. and now, like we said, reopen the government. we'll have a mature conversation about border security and we'll find common ground. that's what we've done. so if you put aside all of the noise about democrats being in trouble, seems to me we have gotten off to a pretty good start. mike: do you worry that the green new deal has let republicans off the map, that it's given them a target?
1:34 pm
mr. jeffries: well, i think the green new deal is an important addition to what is needed as it relates to a robust discussion about doing something meaningful about climate change. last eight years, republican control of the house has essentially meant that they've done nothing about climate change. i think louie gohmert, who i serve with on the judiciary committee and have enjoyed my time watching him in the congress, surprised me almost one day when he went on the house floor and said, i believe in climate change -- this is breaking news. i believe in climate change. it's called the winter, spring, summer and fall. this is their philosophy. ow, the reality is that as the military has said, climate change is a national security threat to the safety and security of the united states of america.
1:35 pm
mike: we can agree it's real and it's a problem. is the way that it's been dealt with, was that a little bit of an own goal for house dems? mr. jeffries: no. i think the central way which it has been dealt with has been that speaker pelosi has appointed a select committee on climate change with a lot of thoughtful voices led by representative kathy castor. and that will be the driving entity as to how we decide to approach this issue. mike: last one on this. you may have seen senator stabenow made news when she said there's going to be an effort to tighten up, was the phrase that she used, the language to make it more clear what was actually intended. do you think that will happen on the house side as well? mr. jeffries: i mean, that's a question that i asked i think of some of the sponsors. mike: would you like to see that happen? mr. jeffries: it's important. every legislative product goes through changes and iterations. that was the case as it relates to the first step act from
1:36 pm
beginning to end. what we started with was not where we ended. so i would expect the same thing will happen with the green new deal. mike: so on shouns, you use the phrase -- i -- shutdowns, you use this phrase, evidence-based legislation. what can you do to prevent future shutdowns? senator portman and others have talked about ways to do that. do you see that happening? do you see any momentum for preventing future shutdowns? mr. jeffries: i definitely think there's a lot of momentum for ending the use of the shutdown. it has consistently failed to advance the agenda of whoever is the individual that has provoked the shutdown or the particular conference that has provoked the shutdown, depending on, you know, what you look at over the last 25 or so years. and so it seems we have to figure out a way legislativively to end this. now, it will be -- legislatively to end this. now, it's going to be complicated. we want to do in a bipartisan way. mike: you'd like to see effort along those lines and you think there's momentum for that?
1:37 pm
mr. jeffries: i think there's definitely momentum for it. and the notion you are going to hold hostage hundreds of thousands, in this most recent instance, millions of people in other instances, and increasingly the economy, which these shutdowns do billions and billions of dollars worth of damage to the economy, we have to find a way to prevent it. mike: last night when you were aingoring the breaking news coverage on msnbc you said, clearly bob mueller is building a case for collusion. do you worry democrats are setting the bar too high? mr. jeffries: i don't think so because i think we just have to let bob mueller be bob mueller and do his work. we have a responsibility as a separate and co-equal branch of government to do our work. we don't work for donald trump. we work for the american people. and we have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch and allow the mueller investigation to run its
1:38 pm
course. in terms of the breaking news, what was interesting about it is increasingly there appears to be a triangular relationship between the trump campaign, wikileaks, and russian spice as part of an effort to sell out our democracy and artificially, perhaps, place someone at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. bob mueller is going to have to continue his investigation and we'll see what is revealed, but what is becoming clear is that we know that the top official of the trump campaign in addition to the several others, paul mana fort, campaign -- manafort, campaign manager, we know he's a crook. we know he's a liar. it appears he may have been a russian asset, whether that was witting or unwitting, i think bob mueller is going to figure that out, and then what was his relationship with his longtime friend, roger stone, who is also a longtime friend of donald trump, and the more than
1:39 pm
100 different contacts between the trump campaign and russia. so he's going to have to unravel all of that. we are not going to overreach, we are not going to overpoliticize, we are not going to overinvestigate but we will do our constitutional duty. mike: you say let mueller be mueller. but axios has reported quite extensive blueprint that house democrats have for an investigation into trump and russia, involves multiple committees, likely public hearings, more witnesses. you use the phrase last night, you said you will be building a record for the american people. what is the goal is or what you intend to have that process which could continue into 2020 is over? mr. jeffries: well, i think it's transparency as to what has or has not happened as it relates to the executive branch. and as i mentioned before, that's not the hakeem jeffries playbook. that's the james madison playbook. like, he clearly indicated the legislative branch is supposed to be a rival to the executive
1:40 pm
because the founders of this country did not want an out-of-control monarchy. they wanted to rein that in. they decided the constitutional fabric that could enable that to happen is the separate and co-equal branch of government. mike: what should this record include? mr. jeffries: well, you know, for instance, as an example, on the judiciary committee, yesterday we had a markup for a universal health care bill. and -- excuse me -- universal background check. lots of universal things floating around in the universe right now. universal background check legislation, which 97% of the american people support. and so a lot of focus has been on, what will the house judiciary committee, for instance, might do relative to the mueller investigation? we actually, you know, have spent a significant part of our time trying to solve problems on behalf of the american people. the gun violence epidemic is one of them. mike: separately from that, as part of that oversight function, what record do house democrats intend to build on
1:41 pm
this question? mr. jeffries: well, i think when you -- we had the acting attorney general who came before us last week and -- mike: by the way, you had quite a moment with him. mr. jeffries: who are you. mike: tell them read quick, act it out real quick. mr. jeffries: i think what we were ultimately trying to establish was, what is the level of interference that may or may not have taken place connected to the mueller investigation and is there some command and control effort to stifle bob mueller's independent investigation? again, it goes back to the notion of, let mueller be mueller. but for the last two years there's been no oversight done to get any insight into whether there is interference or not or whether mueller will be allowed to complete his investigation and then report those findings to the american people. mike: by the way, the chairman with matt whitaker. the punch line when he said, who are you, and whitaker tried
1:42 pm
to answernd the chairman said, mr. whitaker, that was a statement, not a question. i assume you know the difference. mr. jeffries: well, i think once -- i had to get a little brooklyn on him. [laughter] mr. jeffries: the thing was, he came and he was so disrespectful and pet lent at the -- petulant to jerry nadler when he said, your five minutes are up. he set the tone how we were going to proceed. he should also respect the house of representatives. democrats and republicans. mike: ultimate question, you are the former whip of the congressional black caucus. what should happen in virginia? mr. jeffries: well, i think -- save the toughest question for the next to the last question. i think what i've said is based on the governor's initial acknowledgment that he was in that photo, either in blackface or as a k.k.k. figure, that the
1:43 pm
right thing to do for the commonwealth of virginia would have been for him to resign. that's a position i took once it was clear that the virginia congressional delegation in the house, beyond other figures in the senate and elsewhere in virginia, had concluded that in fact was the case. my view now, given the mess that exists as it relates to both the governor, lieutenant governor, where there's very serious allegations made by very serious people which demand a very serious investigation and accountability and then, of course, the situation with the attorney general is that, you know, i'll take my cues from not just the legislative black caucus in virginia but my colleagues in the congressional delegation. mike: so for people keeping score, you think there should be two resignations? mr. jeffries: my view -- mike: zero resignations? mr. jeffries: my view is it
1:44 pm
needs to be sorted out. i will defer to the representatives of the commonwealth of virginia to work through sorting it out. i don't want to get out ahead of them just like i would expect that they wouldn't get out ahead of myself or members of the new york delegation where we -- whether we face a similar political crisis. mike: you talk about what we can learn from brooklyn hip-hop and you talked about jay-z going from being a brooklyn rapper to being a near billionaire. you talked about what we can learn -- the impact on your life of biggie smalls. what can we learn from jay-z and biggie smalls? mr. jeffries: well, biggie smalls, one of the things he said, i went from negative to positive and it's all good. i quoted those lyrics on the house floor during the 20th anniversary of his passing. it was interesting because i then ran into a few weeks ago one of my constituents on fulton street near to where
1:45 pm
biggie smalls grew up and came into fame and he said, aren't you the congressman that shouted out biggie smalls on the house floor two years ago? i said, yeah. that was me. he said, and now i hear that you're the number five democrat in the house of representatives? i said, yeah. kind of worked out. and he said, how did that happen? [laughter] mike: who are you? mr. jeffries: and i respond by the way i can only respond by, you never thought hip-hop would take it this far. and so i think bigie smalls, jay-z, in many ways captures the aspirational aspect of american dream, american exceptionalism. it doesn't apply only in wealthy suburbs but in inner cities. mike: i want to thank my axios colleagues for their constant miracles. c-span for your live coverage. thank the bank of america for
1:46 pm
making these conversations possible. thank all of you for starting valentine's day with us. mr. chairman, thank you for a great conversation. mr. jeffries: thank you. mike: drop the mic. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> members return after the senate votes on the house senate -- house-senate compromise over government and border security and funding the rest of the budget year. it provides nearly $1.4 billion for 55 miles of barriers in texas. includes funding for nine federal departments and 2% raise for federal workers. the senate plans to vote on it first. if it is passed there, the house will take up the package
1:47 pm
later with the first house votes expected around 6:30 eastern. the senate earlier just a short while ago on another issue. approved the nomination of william barr to be the next attorney general. that vote 54-45. follow the house live here on c-span when they gavel in and the senate live now on c-span2. on the budget issue a short while ago president trump released this tweet saying reviewing the funding with my team at the white house. the president and congress have until tomorrow night, midnight, to work out a deal before funding runs out. representative greg pence of indiana sent out this video of his staff looking through various parts of the bill because house speaker nancy pelosi waved the 72-hour rule that would give them more time for more thorough assessment because the funding runs out tomorrow and threatens another shutdown so they're going through all 1,159 pages. we're getting our primetime schedule on the c-span networks this evening. startingt


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on