It’s no secret that our electoral system is deeply flawed. Powerful lobbies exert excessive influence in political campaigns. And large numbers of legal and eligible voters are disenfranchised each electoral cycle. In his capacity as Judiciary Subcommittee Chair and Ranking Member, Jerry has held many hearings, introduced legislation, and provided critical oversight on voting rights, campaign finance reform, and general electoral reform.
Jerry had the honor to serve as the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties from 2006 to 2009, and has since served as ranking Democrat on that Subcommittee. As such, he takes very seriously his responsibility to uphold the U.S. Constitution and protect Americans’ individual liberties. He uses his role to provide critical oversight of the Department of Justice, to prevent governmental abuses of power and overreach into our lives, and to protect the checks and balances upon which our system of government relies.
Jerry knows that our nation’s public schools are in crisis. With too little funding, over-crowded classrooms, deteriorating buildings, and an inability to retain the best teachers, our children are simply not receiving the education they need or deserve. He is worried about cookie-cutter testing standards and about the prohibitive cost of higher education, which frequently saddles those lucky enough to go to college with decades of debt.
For as long as he has been in public office, Jerry has been especially concerned with regional and national transportation policy. Jerry believes that transportation, and the efficient movement of people and goods, affects virtually every aspect of our daily lives – our work, the economy, the environment, our quality of life, and the cost of every consumer good we purchase. He believes that federal investment in transportation and other key infrastructure is not only good policy, but essential for creating jobs and economic productivity. He has also long argued that we mus
For his 40 years in public life, Jerry has worked tirelessly in pursuit of equal rights for all Americans, fighting daily against legal discrimination and bigotry. A friend to all those who are fighting for equality – racial and religious minorities, women, the LGBT community, the disability community, and others – Jerry is considered the staunchest of advocates for our constitutionally guaranteed access to civil rights.
Jerry is a firm believer that quality housing is a right and not a privilege. He has advocated vigorously for affordable housing preservation and expansion each year locally and in Congress. The day-to-day work of his district includes fighting for tenants and working to keep housing affordable and safe for everyone.
Today, following years of deregulation and irresponsible fiscal policy, the U.S. financial system remains in a state of crisis, and middle and working-class Americans are left to pick up the pieces. In New York, where working families face unique challenges because of an extremely high cost of living, thousands of Jerry’s constituents have been suffering.
While our government has made great strides since 9/11 in developing counter-terrorism measures, gathering intelligence, and, generally, making Americans safer (affronts to civil liberties notwithstanding), Jerry contends that there are still critical gaps in our nation's security years after the terrorist attacks. He has pushed consistently for more federal resources to fight nuclear proliferation around the world and secure hundreds of tons of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium that are inadequately protected in the former Soviet Union. And he has championed 100% scanning of
Jerry has worked hard to safeguard our natural resources globally and here in New York by vigorously supporting – and defending – federal environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, by working locally on initiatives to reduce pollution and curtail polluting industries, and by supporting sustainable and green local projects.
Health care is one of the issues about which Jerry is most concerned. He has spent much of his career fighting for affordable, high-quality health care and universal coverage, which he views as basic necessities without which a civil society cannot prosper. Knowing well that millions of people around the nation have inadequate coverage or no coverage at all, Jerry worked hard in support of health insurance reform in Washington, and fought for the strongest bill possible, for a robust public option, for women’s reproductive rights, and for consumer protections for middle and work
The catastrophic events of September 11, 2001 took place in Jerry’s district and profoundly affected him both personally and in his work. In addition to the nearly 3,000 lives lost, the attacks resulted in the utter devastation of Lower Manhattan’s infrastructure, economy, and environment.
Jerry is a vigorous defender of the Social Security and Medicare programs, which have been the bedrock upon which senior citizens have depended for economic security and health care for generations. He has consistently fought the Republicans in their attempts to discredit Social Security or warn of non-existent crises on the horizon. Jerry made the case early on that doom and gloom fear mongering about the solvency of Social Security was merely an attempt to privatize that solvent and efficient program. He has consistently pushed back against attempts to privatize – and un
One of Jerry's most important responsibilities as a Member of Congress is to help constituents navigate the dizzying maze of government bureaucracy on questions of benefits, immigration, housing, insurance, veteran affairs, Medicare, and Social Security, among other issues. Over the years, Jerry and his very experienced staff have helped thousands of New Yorkers solve their cases on critical and pressing constituent issues.
A longtime critic of violence and warfare, Jerry opposed the war in Iraq from the outset and worked with the Out of Iraq Caucus to end America’s involvement in that sectarian civil war. In response to the attacks of 9/11, he voted in favor of using military force in Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda strongholds and prevent further attacks. Since that specific mission was accomplished, however, Jerry has been at the forefront of the opposition to continuing that now-unfocused and wasteful war. He believes that the Afghan war has needlessly cost thousands of lives and billions
MAP-21 pushed U.S. DOT to get serious about freight: In recent months, the agency has announced the creation of a national freight policy, a National Freight Advisory Committee, and a Freight Policy Council, as mandated by the bill.