Why Hakeem Jeffries is so pissed at these New York Republicans
The top House Democrat characterized a recent anti-abortion vote from members in Biden districts as inconsistent with the state’s values on reproductive freedom.
JEFFRIES “PERSONALLY OFFENDED” BY GOP NY REP’S ANTI-ABORTION VOTE
Five House Republicans representing districts President Biden won in 2020 voted to pass an amendment to ban the Defense Department from reimbursing servicemembers who travel out of state for abortion care. And with reproductive freedom remaining an energizing issue on the left, Democrats won’t soon let voters forget about the New York quintet, which includes Reps. Anthony D’Espisito, Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, and George Santos.
The annual Pentagon bill is usually a bipartisan affair. But it passed last Friday morning along party lines after House Republicans hemorrhaged Democratic support following the adoption of a series of controversial amendments, including a ban on the Defense Department’s policy of reimbursing servicemembers who travel out of state for abortion care.
Among the Republicans who voted for the amendment were five representing district President Joe Biden who won in 2020: Reps. Anthony D’Espisito, Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, Marc Molinaro, and George Santos. And for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), their votes were the latest in a series that defy his home state’s left-leaning values.
“Notwithstanding whatever position I have the honor of holding here in Washington, I’m a representative of the great state of New York,” Jeffries told reporters on Friday morning. “And I know what the values of New Yorkers are, as it relates to reproductive freedom: We support a woman’s freedom to make her own reproductive health care.”
Jeffries added that he was “personally offended” for the constituents in his district who serve in the military and are stationed in states with strict anti-abortion laws that force them to seek care in another state.
“The fact that you’ve got members from the New York delegation, voting in a way that is inconsistent with the reproductive freedom of the people that I represent and the women in America who are serving in uniform?” Jeffries said. “Yes, I have a problem with that. But more importantly, so does the majority of the American people.”
The comments come after Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed a six-abortion ban at the state’s Family Leadership Summit, which featured several candidates for the Republican presidential nomination vying for the support of evangelical voters. Reynolds called a special session for the state legislature to pass the ban.
“You will not hear us stop talking about this bill even though Republicans don’t want to talk about it because it is what Iowans don’t want,” Jennifer Konfrst, Iowa’s House Minority Leader, told reporters late last week. “And we’re going to remind Iowans every day thus this is what Republicans did in spite of their wishes.”
With reproductive freedom remaining an energizing issue on the left, abortion rights won’t soon let voters forget about the New York quintet either.
Ryan Stitzlein, vice president of political and government relations at NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Supercreator Daily in a statement that congressional Republicans are sowing their political downfall with their support of extreme restrictions on reproductive freedom.
“This NDAA vote was an opportunity for these members to take a stand against the fringes of their party, but their position on abortion on abortion is as radical as any in the House GOP Conference,” Stitzleion added. “New Yorkers won’t stand for these attacks on their rights and will relieve these Republicans of their jobs at the ballot box in 2024.”
Jeffries was asked how he squared his attacks against House Republicans when Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), the last anti-abortion member of the Democratic Caucus, voted in favor of the same amendment.
“Well, we can agree to disagree,” Jeffries said. “The overwhelming majority of people on every issue of reproductive freedom over the last several Congresses have clearly expressed their positions as it relates to standing on the side of women and reproductive freedom.”
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JAYAPAL APOLOGIZES FOR ISRAEL COMMENTS
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) on Sunday evening walked back comments she made the day before at Netroots Nation against Israel and its government’s far-right policies.
“I want you to know that we have been fighting to make it clear that Israel is a racist state,” Jayapal said while defending Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), whose voice had been drowned out by protesters chanting and holding Palestinian flags.
In her apology, Jayapal said her comments were an attempt to diffuse the situation but also acknowledged that words matter.
“The only way through these difficult moments is to have real conversations where we develop our own understanding of each other and the traumas we all hold,” she said. “These are not easy conversations but they are important ones if we are ever to move forward. It is in that spirit that I offer my apologies to those who I have hurt with my words, and offer this clarification.”
Despite the apology; Jayapal’s comments were forcefully rebuked by Jewish House Democrats and the caucus’s leadership team.
A draft statement authored by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Greg Landsman (D-OH), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Kathy Manning (D-NC) said the group expressed deep concerns about Jayapal’s comments but appreciated her retraction.
“Regardless of extremist views from groups aligned with either party, efforts to rewrite history and question the Jewish state’s right to exist, or our historic bipartisan relationship, will never succeed in Congress,” the statement said. “We will never allow anti-Zionist voices that embolden antisemitism to hijack the Democratic Party and country.”
A joint statement from Leader Jeffries and deputies Katherine Clark (D-MA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), and Ted Lieu (D-CA) said they support Israel’s right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people and are also firmly committed to a two-state solution where Israel and the Palestinian people can live side by side in peace and prosperity.
“Government officials come and go,” the leaders said. “The special relationship between the United States and Israel will endure. We are determined to make sure support for Israel in the Congress remains strongly bipartisan.”
Jayapal’s timing was especially awkward since President Isaac Herzog of Israel will be at the White House on Tuesday. And he’ll be on Capitol Hill the next day to speak to Congress. A handful of pro-Palestinian House Democrats had already announced they would skip Herzog’s speech in protest.
Jayapal is in her second term as the top House progressive after contemplating a run for a top leadership post in the Democratic Caucus during a changing of the guard last November. CPC rules limit chairs to serving two consecutive terms.
The Netroots Conference bills itself as the largest annual convening for progressives.
FROST: SERVING IN THE MINORITY IS A BLESSING AND CURSE
Prior to Jayapal’s comments, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) moderated a wide-ranging panel discussion at Netroots with first-term House progressives Reps. Maxwell Frost (D-FL), Delia Ramirez (D-IL), Greg Casar (D-TX), and Summer Lee (D-PA) about their first six months in office.
The conversation shifted to the lawmakers’ — all people of color — experiences as new minority members serving in the minority party of the House.
Frost, an Afro-Latino and the first Gen-Z member elected to Congress, said he viewed serving in a Republican-controlled House as a blessing hidden inside a curse because it’s tested his creativity.
“I think being in the minority has given me the opportunity and given my team the opportunity to kind of take a step back and say, ‘How can we do this better?’ especially in this moment and especially in our state that I know and that I love and that I was born in,” he said. “How can do better for them? And so I really refuse this whole thing where it's like, we have to wait for the majority. I didn't run to wait. And so I think that's like the blessing and the curse there.”
Frost wasn’t the only first on the stage: Ramirez is the first Latina to represent Illinois in Congress and Lee is the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in the House. When Omar was elected in 2018, she became the first Somali American and the first African-born member to serve in Congress and the first woman of color to represent Minnesota.
ICYMI: BIDEN’S RE-ELECT RAISES $72M IN Q2
President Biden’s campaign raised $72 million during the period between his late April reelection announcement and the end of the second quarter. The campaign has $77 million cash on hand, which it says represents the highest total amassed by a Democrat at any comparable point in history.
“I think it just goes to show that the #Joementum is real and what he’s doing for the American people is resonating,” State Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-FL) and a member of the Biden campaign’s National Advisory Board said to Supercreator Daily. “People want to be a part of something that is working and winning, and President Biden and Vice President Harris [are] doing that.”
97 percent of all donations were less than $200 with the average contribution cashing in at $39 from donors across all 50 states. Teachers, nurses, and retirees were some of the common occupations of donors. And perhaps most importantly, 30 percent of donors are new since the 2020 campaign.
To be clear, these numbers aren’t too shabby at all. But it’s worth noting that the Biden campaign itself raised just $19.9 million — or 27.6 percent — of the $72 million announced jointly by the Democratic National Committee as part of the joint fundraising agreement between the campaign and all 50 states and Washington, DC. The campaign-only figure is less than what Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign reported during Q2 but more than former President Donald Trump’s.
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THEY DID THAT
Russia halted a deal that allows grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia until demands to ease shipping and insurance restrictions are met. The deal was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last summer months after Russia invaded Ukraine, which sent food commodity prices surging to record highs last year and contributed to a global food crisis.
The White House announced it canceled $39 billion in student loan debt for over 800,000 borrowers who had been repaying their loans for 20 years or more. The administration is still in the process of establishing an alternative path for the borrowers who would have received up to $20,000 in relief from the plan the Supreme Court overturned last month.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
10 a.m. President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
12 p.m. The House will meet at noon with votes scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on several bills under suspension of the rules legislation to promote global competitiveness.
3 p.m. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will host the Institute of Museum and Library 2023 National Medal ceremony at the White House.
6:30 p.m. Dr. Biden will host and speak at a youth soccer clinic with Major League Soccer for children and families on the South Lawn.
Vice President Harris is in Washington, DC and has no events on her public schedule.
The Senate is out.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will welcome President Herzog to the White House.
Wednesday: President Biden will convene a meeting of the Competition Council. He and Dr. Biden will host the White House Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn.
Thursday: The president will travel to Philadelphia to speak about Bidenomics.
Harris’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The vice president will meet with state attorneys general to discuss the fentanyl crisis.
Wednesday: Vice President Harris will preside over an address by President Herzog to a joint meeting of Congress. She will also participate in a bilateral meeting with Herzog. She will also attend the Congressional Picnic.
Thursday: The vice president will travel to Indianapolis to speak at the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. national convention.
Friday: Vice President Harris will be in Washington DC and have no events on her public schedule.
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