MetroFocus: May 29, 2020

“He is recording me and threatening me and my dog,” Amy Cooper, the woman, is heard saying. “I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble! Please send the cops immediately.” The video shows a confrontation between a white woman, walking her dog off a leash in Central Park and a black man bird watching in Central Park. Police responded and no arrests were made. But the viral video has lawmakers taking on this case and others like it with a bill that would criminalize falsely reporting an incident as a hate crime. State Senator Brian Benjamin, one of two lawmakers who introduced the legislation joins us tonight.

 New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is a leading voice in Washington calling on Congress to pass more coronavirus stimulus relief. He and fellow House Democrats recently approved the HEROES Act, which would send another round of stimulus checks to Americans, provide billions for state and local governments and help renters and homeowners alike. It would also include aid for testing, treatment and tracing to help restart the economy. But will Senate Republicans get on board with at least some of what Democrats are calling for? And what could it all mean for the future of New York? Congressman Jeffries joins us to discuss the fight over the next stimulus package as well as his efforts to get New Yorkers tested.

TRANSCRIPT

> UP NEXT, 'METROFOCUS.'

WE'RE WORKING FROM HOME BUT WE'RE DEDICATED TO BRINGING YOU THE IMPORTANT STORIES ABOUT HOW OUR AREA IS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P.

WALTER AND BY --

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE A TOOL USED IN EMERGENCIES ONLY WHEN FIRST RESPONDERS ARE NEEDED.

I'M TALKING ABOUT 911.

HOWEVER, STATE SENATOR BRIAN BENJAMIN SAYS IN INSTANCES OF WHITE PEOPLE CALLING THE CRISIS HOTLINE TO LOG FALSE ACCUSATIONS OF HATE CRIMES AGAINST AFRICAN-AMERICANS IS ABUSING THAT SYSTEM AND SHOULD BE CRIMINALIZED.

ALONG WITH FELLOW LAWMAKER ASSEMBLYMAN FELIX ORTIZ, THEY'RE INTRODUCING LEGISLATION THAT WOULD CRIMINALIZE MAKING SUCH ACCUSATIONS AGAINST AFRICAN-AMERICANS OR ANYONE ELSE LIKE THE ONES THAT HAPPENED OVER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND IN CENTRAL PARK.

SO JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION IS STATE SENATOR BRIAN BENJAMIN.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU.

GLAD TO BE HERE.

SO, FIRST OFF, TAKE ME THROUGH BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE NOW SEEN THAT VIRAL VIDEO, A LOT OF EMOTIONS ARE TIED UP IN THIS SUBJECT.

FIRST OFF, WHAT IS THIS LEGISLATION?

WHAT WOULD IT DO EXACTLY?

SURE.

RIGHT NOW IT IS ACTUALLY A CRIME TO FALSELY REPORT AN INCIDENT.

WHAT THIS BILL ACTUALLY DOES IS SAY THAT IF YOU FALSELY REPORT AN INCIDENT WITH RACE AS A MOTIVATOR, ETHNIC ISSUES OR LGBTQ, ET CETERA, THEN IT WILL BE CLASSIFIED -- SHOULD BE CLASSIFIED AS A HATE CRIME.

SO FOR ME, YOU KNOW, THERE'S NO DOUBT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS SITUATION, CLEARLY THERE WAS RACIAL INTENT IN HOW SHE EXPLAINS THIS CALL.

911, THE VIDEO WAS VERY CLEAR.

FOR ME, I THINK THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED.

WHAT I WOULD EFFECTIVELY DO IN THE STATE -- SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR A THIRD DEGREE OFFENSE OF FALSE REPORTING OF AN INCIDENT.

IN THAT SCENARIO, WHICH IS A CLASS 'A' MISDEMEANOR, SHE WOULD THEN BE BUMPED UP TO A HIGHER CHARGE BECAUSE OF THE HATE CRIME COMPONENT OF IT.

RIGHT NOW YOU CAN'T DO THAT, IF THIS BILL WOULD BECOME LAW, THAT WOULD BE THE CASE AND SHE WOULD HAVE A STIFFER PENALTY.

WELL, NOW THAT'S SOMETHING THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE VOICED THEIR CONCERN ABOUT.

INCLUDING THE BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT, THAT'S THE FACT THAT THE WOMAN IN THE VIDEO WAS NOT ARRESTED AND NOT CHARGED.

YOU'RE SAYING THAT THERE'S ALREADY LAWS ON THE BOOKS THAT WOULD HAVE MADE THAT POSSIBLE.

FIRST I WANT YOU TO EXPLAIN, IF WE ALREADY HAVE A LAW ON THE BOOKS, WHY IS IT NOT BEING USED?

DO YOU HAVE ANY CLEAR INDICATION AS TO WHY?

THE NYPD, BENJAMIN TUCKER SAID THEY HAD BIGGER FISH TO FRY.

SO THEY MADE THE DECISION THEY WOULD NOT ARREST HER FOR THIS EVEN THOUGH THEY SHE THE RIGHT TO ARREST HER FOR THIS GIVEN CRIMINAL LAW.

FOR THEY MADE THE DETERMINATION.

I THINK THIS IS A BIGGER FISH YOU HAVE TO FRY BECAUSE OF THE SOCIETAL IMPACT.

I DON'T HAVE TO GO INTO THE CONTEXT OF EMIT TILL, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, THE WHOLE ISSUE OF CRIMINALIZING BLACKS AS IT RELATES TO FALSELY ACCUSING THEM OF THINGS.

FOR ME THIS IS THE KIND OF THING WE MUST PRIORITIZE.

IT WAS BIGGER THAN MR. COOPER, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT EVERY BLACK -- THIS IS MY MOM'S WORST FEAR COME TO LIFE.

I PLAYED BY ALL THE RULES, I WENT TO ALL THE RIGHT SCHOOLS, I DID ALL THE RIGHT THINGS, I AM ALWAYS THE DEESCALATOR IN THE SITUATION.

EVERYTHING MR. COOPER DID IN THIS VIDEO THAT WE SAW IS WHAT YOU'RE TOLD.

JUST ALWAYS TURN THE OTHER CHEEK, SHOW RESTRAINT.

I CAN'T EVEN FATHOM HOW HE SHOWED THE LEVEL OF RESTRAINT THAT HE DID SHOW WHEN HE SAW HER MAKE THE CALL AND SHE WAS FAKING AS IF HE WAS SOMEHOW ATTACKING HER KNOWING IT WAS JUST HIM AND HER IN THE RAMBLES IN THIS KIND OF WAY.

ONE THING I WANT TO ADD, MANY PEOPLE SAY, OH, MY GOD, YOU KNOW, YEAH, SHE'S A TRUMP SUPPORTER.

SHE WAS NOT.

IF YOU LOOK AT HER VOTING -- DONATION PAST, SHE GAVE MONEY TO BARACK OBAMA.

THIS IS BIGGER THAN, YOU KNOW, OH, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN THE SOUTH.

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IN THE ENTIRE PSYCHE OF ALL OF US AND WE HAVE TO ROOT IT OUT.

I BELIEVE OUR CRIMINAL LAWS HAVE TO INCLUDE THIS FACTOR.

IT'S TOO SCARY FOR SOME OF US TO BE IN POSITION WHERE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN ME OR A SIBLING OR A FRIEND OR CONSTITUENT WHO JUST HAPPENED TO BE AT THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME AND RUN INTO A SITUATION LIKE THIS.

LET ME PUSH BACK A LITTLE BIT.

SURE.

THERE ARE -- FIRST OF ALL, PEOPLE HAVE VOICED CONCERN THAT IS THIS A NEW PIECE OF LEGISLATION?

IS A NEW LAW LIKE THIS REALLY NECESSARY?

WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE WOMAN HAS ALREADY BEEN RELIEVED OF HER POSITION.

WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT SHE SURRENDERED THE DOG THAT WE ALSO SAW IN THE VIDEO AND THAT SHE ALSO AT LEAST IN HER STATEMENT AFTER THE INCIDENT INDICATED THAT SHE FELT SCARED.

RIGHT.

NOW YOU CAN MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT WITH THE VIDEOTAPE THAT WE HAVE THAT THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE CASE HAVING SEEN THE VIDEO.

BUT GOING FORWARD, HOW DO YOU APPLY SUCH A LAW WHEN SOMEONE CAN EASILY SAY, BUT I WAS GENUINELY IN FEAR FOR MY LIFE?

RIGHT.

GREAT POINT.

THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE BILL.

IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, SHE WAS IN A POSITION WHERE SHE WAS BEING VIDEOTAPED AND SHE EXPRESSED CLEAR BIAS WHAT IF SHE WASN'T VIDEOTAPED?

THAT'S MY POINT.

WHEN YOU NEED TO INCENTIVIZE PEOPLE TO NOT LIE AND USE RACE AS A FACTOR.

I DON'T BELIEVE YOU CAN HOPE THAT HAPPENS.

I BELIEVE YOU HAVE TO HAVE YOUR LAWS SHOWCASE THAT.

THERE'S A REASON WHY WE SAY CERTAIN CRIMES HAVE HIGHER PENALTIES THAN OTHERS.

BECAUSE OF THE SEVERITY OF IT.

THAT HATE CRIME -- WHICH IS WHAT I CALL IT, I DON'T CARE HOW ANYBODY ELSE DESCRIBES IT.

WHAT SHE DID WAS A HATE CRIME.

SHE WEAPONIZED HIS RACE, HER RACE, AND THE POLICE WAY OF INTERACTING WITH PARTICULARLY BLACK MEN.

LOOK AT THE CONFLICT RIGHT NOW, IT'S BEYOND SCARY.

WE HAVE TO STATE THAT SPECIFICALLY.

IT'S IMPORTANT WE MAKE STATEMENTS AND THE CRIMINAL PENALTIES SHOULD REFLECT THAT.

THAT'S WHY I THINK THIS BILL IS SO IMPORTANT.

I'M SPEAKING WITH STATE SENATOR BRIAN BENJAMIN ABOUT A NEW PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT WOULD CRIMINALIZE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE ACCUSATIONS VIA 911 IN REGARDS TO PEOPLE, NOT ONLY AFRICAN-AMERICANS BUT PEOPLE IN ANY PARTICULAR CLASS.

ACROSS THE BOARD.

NOW I WANT TO GET AT THE CRUX.

YOU TALKED SO MUCH ABOUT THIS STORY TO UNPACK, ONE OF THEM IS THE FACT THAT THIS IS NOT THE PERSON WHO PERHAPS A LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD EASILY DISMISS.

OH, YOU KNOW, THIS IS SOMEONE FROM A DIFFERENT REGION OF THE COUNTRY AND THEY THINK AND THEY ACT THAT WAY.

THIS WOMAN IS A NEW YORKER.

MY POINT IS EVEN WITH THE LEGISLATION IN PLACE F THIS IS SOMEONE WHO IS OF A CERTAIN ECONOMIC CLASS WHO MIGHT FEEL AS THOUGH EVEN IF THEY DID BREAK THE LAW -- SHE DIDN'T BREAK THE LAW BUT SHE DIDN'T HAVE HER DOG ON THE LEASH, THAT WAS BREAKING PARK RULES, THAT YOU CAN STILL GET THE LAW TO WORK FOR YOU.

YOU CAN STILL HIRE A LAWYER TO GET YOU OUT OF THIS.

BASICALLY HOW DO YOU GET SOMEONE TO NOT PICK UP THE PHONE AND MAKE THAT CALL WHEN YOU FEEL DEEP IN YOUR SOUL THAT YOU FEEL ENTITLED TO DO SO.

THAT'S -- THAT'S A MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION.

I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS -- THERE'S A REASON WHY THIS VIDEO HAS 40 MILLION VIEWS.

THE REASON WHY IT'S GETTING SO MUCH ATTENTION IT STRIKES AT THE FEARS THAT ARE EMBEDDED IN OUR SYSTEM.

YOU JUST EXPRESSED ONE.

I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU DO THAT LEGISLATIVELY.

I THINK THE WAY WE HANDLE THAT IS THROUGH OUR NORMS AND US BEING CLEAR.

ONE REASON WHY I'M PUSHING THIS BILL SO HARD NOW, WE NEED THIS IN THE CONVERSATION.

IT'S NOT JUST A WHITE WOMAN FELT NERVOUS, SHE MADE A MISTAKE.

THIS IS A CRIME.

SHE COMMITTED A CRIME.

BASED ON CRIMINAL LAW, IT'S A THIRD DEGREE OFFENSE.

SO WHILE THE NYPD HAS CHOSEN TO IGNORE IT, THAT'S A DIFFERENT ISSUE, THAT DOESN'T MEAN WHAT SHE DID ISN'T A CRIME AND WE SHOULD FORGET THAT.

THE FACT SHE HASN'T BEEN ARRESTED TO ME IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

OH, NOT A BIG DEAL.

IT WAS A VERY BIG DEAL.

IT'S THE KIND OF THING THAT IF WE DON'T SORT OF ENFORCE THE LAWS WE HAVE ON THEIR BOOKS NOW, THAT HELPS TO LEAD TO THIS CONTINUED SORT OF THOUGHT THAT WELL, SOME PEOPLE CAN GET AWAY WITH WHATEVER THEY WANT.

THIS IS A HATE CRIME, YOU CAN FALSELY REPORT INCIDENTS USING RACE AS A WOMEN, IT'S A HAT CRHATE CRIME AND WE NEED IT CLASSIFIED AS SUCH.

THIS IS WHAT YOU AND I AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO KEEP DISCUSSING SO WE CAN MAKE SURE SOCIETY ACTS AND DOES BETTER.

THE MORE WE HEAR FROM WHITE, BLACK, LATINO, ASIAN, ALL OF US THAT THIS WAS WRONG AND THIS SHOULDN'T HAPPEN, THE MORE WE HAVE MORE OF THAT GOING ON, THE BETTER THE CONVERSATION WILL BE.

WE CAN'T JUST LABEL THIS AS A TRUMP THING.

NO, THIS IS AN ALL OF US THING.

UNLESS WE LOOK CLEARLY AT OURSELVES AND OUR PREJUDICES ACROSS THE BOARD, WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD.

SENATOR, AND I'M SURE -- MY QUESTION WON'T BE ABLE TO BE ANSWERED IN THE TWO MINUTES WE HAVE LEFT.

ONE THING -- ONE FACTORS THAT ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE IN NOT ONLY THIS INCIDENT BUT IN SO MANY OTHERS THAT WE'VE SEEN IS THAT IT WAS VIDEOTAPED.

YES.

HAD THIS DIDN'T NOT BEEN VIDEOTAPED, 'A,' NOT ONLY WOULD WE NOT KNOW ABOUT IT, BUT 'B,' IF A LAW LIKE THIS WAS ON THE BOOKS, HOW DO YOU PROVE IT?

IF A LAW LIKE THIS WAS ON THE BOOKS AND IT WAS NOT VIDEOTAPED?

YES.

THAT BOILS DOWN TO THE PROSECUTORS, THE DEFENSE, AND WHATEVER EVIDENCE IS THERE.

ONE OF THE THINGS THIS CLEARLY SHOWS IS THAT IF YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A SITUATION LIKE THIS, YOUR PHONE CAMERA IS YOUR BEST FRIEND.

SOME SORT OF -- THAT'S WHY SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE HAVE THE RECORDINGS WHEN THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS.

YOU NEED PROOF, YOU NEED EVIDENCE, OTHERWISE HE SAID/SHE SAID THING.

IN A CASE LIKE THIS, SHE IS GOING TO BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.

THAT'S THE WHOLE THING.

SO FOR US TO SEE SOMETHING LIKE THIS, I THINK IT'S GOING TO TRIGGER IN PEOPLES HEADS, YOU KNOW WHAT?

MAYBE THE WHITE WOMAN SHOULDN'T ALWAYS BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT IN SITUATIONS LIKE THIS.

WE SAW CLEARLY WHERE THAT WAS ABUSED.

AND WE ALSO SAW THE BLACK MAN NOT BEING CONFRONTATIONAL AND AGGRESSIVE.

WE SAW THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF NORMALLY WHAT THE STEREOTYPE IS IN THIS SITUATION.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR THE WORLD TO SEE THIS SO WE CAN HELP TO REASSESS AND REJUDGE HOW WE VIEW THESE KINDS OF MATTERS.

THAT'S PART OF IT.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT JURIES, THEY'RE MADE UP OF HUMAN BEINGS.

THAT'S TRUE.

SO THAT'S MY THOUGHT.

IT'S A TOUGH QUESTION.

IT'S A TOUGH TOPIC, BUT WE HAVE TO DO OUR BEST TO CREATE AS MUCH FAIRNESS AS WE CAN.

THAT'S WHAT I'M HOPING DO WITH THIS BILL.

STATE SENATOR BRIAN BENJAMIN, THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME AND KEEP US UP TO DATE ON WHAT BECOMES OF THE BILL.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JACK FORD.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE NEXT ROUND OF STIMULUS RELIEF COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON, NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN HAKIM JEFFRIES HAS BEEN ONE OF THE LEADING VOICES URGING CONGRESS TO ACT AND ACT QUICKLY.

CONGRESSMAN JEFFRIES AND HIS COLLEAGUES IN THE HOUSE APPROVED A $3 TRILLION PROPOSAL THAT WOULD PROVIDE AMONG OTHER THINGS STIMULUS CHECKS TO CITIZENS, BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN AID TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS, AND HELP FOR RENTERS AND FOR HOME OWNERS.

THE QUESTION NOW BECOMES WHAT WILL THE SENATE DO WITH THIS PROPOSAL?

IS THERE ROOM FOR NEGOTIATION AND COMPROMISE?

IS THERE A WILLINGNESS TO NEGOTIATE AND COMPROMISE?

IF SO, WHEN?

WHAT MIGHT THE FINAL PRODUCT LOOK LIKE.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE CONGRESSMAN JEFFRIES JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS AND SO MANY OTHER THINGS.

HE REPRESENTS NEW YORK'S 8th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT AND HE'S THE CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS.

CONGRESSMAN, ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

I HOPE YOU ARE WELL.

GREAT TO BE WITH YOU.

LET ME START OFF WITH THE PROPOSAL THAT CAME OUT OF THE HOUSE, A $3 TRILLION PROPOSAL WITH A VARIETY OF ASPECTS TO IT.

CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE ON THE STATUS OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH MEMBERS OF THE SENATE ABOUT THIS PROPOSAL?

THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY CRISIS WE FIND OURSELVES IN.

A PANDEMIC OF EPIC PROPORTIONS, A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AND AN ECONOMIC CRISIS THAT HAS INFLICTED PAIN, SUFFERING AND DEATH IN NEW YORK CITY AND THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.

MORE THAN 100,000 AMERICANS DEAD.

OVER 40 MILLION OR SO UNEMPLOYED.

THE ECONOMY IN DEEP DEPRESSION-LIKE CONDITIONS.

THE HOUSE ACTED WITH THE URGENCY OF NOW.

THE SENATE IS ON VACATION THIS WEEK.

THE PRESIDENT IS FOCUSED ON OTHER THINGS.

THAT'S PROBLEMATIC.

IT'S OUR VIEW WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER NOT AS DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS BUT AS AMERICANS TO ADDRESS THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT.

AND THE HEROES ACT WILL PROVIDE RELIEF TO EVERY-DAY AMERICANS, SUPPORT OUR FIRST RESPONDERS, AND INTERVENE IN A WAY THAT WILL HELP US DEFEAT COVID-19 PANDEMIC THROUGH TESTING, TRACING AND TREATMENT.

SO IT'S MY HOPE THAT WHEN THE SENATE GETS BACK INTO SESSION IN JUNE, THEY WILL HAVE IN GOOD FAITH TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND WITH HOUSE DEMOCRATS SO WE CAN GET SOMETHING DONE ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

SOME REPUBLICANS HAVE INDICATED THERE'S A RELUCTANCE TO ESSENTIALLY SPEND MORE MONEY AND ADD TO THE NATIONAL DEBT.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM AND TO OTHERS WHO MIGHT NOT BE REPUBLICANS, WHO MIGHT SAY, YES, THIS IS A TERRIBLE NATIONAL TRAGEDY.

IT'S A HORRIBLE NATIONAL CRISIS, HOWEVER WE STILL NEED TO BE COGNIZANT OF SPENDING MONEY WE DON'T HAVE RIGHT NOW.

SUGGESTING THAT ADDING TO A NATIONAL DEBT THAT IS HOVERING SOMEWHERE AROUND $25 TRILLION RIGHT NOW WOULD CREATE AN UNDUE BURDEN ON FUTURE GENERATIONS.

HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

CHAIRMAN JEROME POWELL OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE HAS MADE CLEAR THAT CONGRESS NEEDS TO ACT, WE NEED TO ACT IN A BOLD WAY, AND WE NEED TO MEET THE MOMENT WITH THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR RESPONSE.

CHAIRMAN POWELL HAS ALSO INDICATED THAT GIVEN THE INCREDIBLY LOW INTEREST RATES THAT NOW IS THE TIME FOR CONGRESS TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT ENSURING THAT WE PROVIDE THE RELIEF TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITHOUT BEING OVERLY TIED TO FISCAL CONCERNS AT THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT.

THE ENTIRE WORLD IS FACED WITH A SIMILAR SITUATION.

THE WORLD IS ACTING, AMERICA MUST ACT AS WELL.

THE OTHER THING, JACK, THAT I POINT OUT, IT'S QUITE RICH FOR MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES TO NOW TALK ABOUT FISCAL CONCERNS WHEN THE FIRST THING THEY DID IN 2017, WHEN THEY CONTROLLED THE HOUSE, THE SENATE AND THE PRESIDENCY WAS TO PASS A $2 TRILLION TAX SCAM WHERE 83% OF THE BENEFITS WENT TO THE WEALTHIEST 1%. SADDLING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH $2 TRILLION WORTH OF DEBT FOR NO REASON AT ALL.

IT WAS THE LARGEST GIVEAWAY IN AMERICAN HISTORY.

NOW YOU HAVE AMERICANS DYING ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND THEY WANT TO LECTURE US ABOUT FISCAL RESTRAINT?

IT'S A PHONY ARGUMENT AND ONE WE DON'T TAKE SERIOUSLY.

AS YOU KNOW, WE LIVE IN A HYPER PARTISAN TIME.

NOT JUST IN WASHINGTON BUT ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

YOU HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE -- ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO BEGINNING OF EACH TERM HAS SAID IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO REACH ACROSS AISLES, TO RECOGNIZE THE NOTION THAT A REPRESENTATIVE, TWO-PARTY DEMOCRACY CAN ONLY SUCCEED THROUGH COMPROMISE AND NEGOTIATION.

YOU HAD SUCCESS IN AREAS OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE DOING JUST THAT.

UNDERSTANDING THAT BACK DROP AND WHERE WE ARE NOW IN TERMS OF OUR HYPERPARTISANSHIP, ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE HERE THAT LITERALLY THERE WILL BE A NEW PACKAGE COMING OUT OF WASHINGTON THAT WILL PROVIDE SOME OF THE SUPPORT AND ASPECTS OF WHAT HAS BEEN APPROVED SO FAR BY THE HOUSE?

I'M ABSOLUTELY CONFIDENT THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO FIND COMMON GROUND WITH MY COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE AND SENATE REPUBLICANS AS WE HAVE DONE IN THE PAST ON A WIDE VARIETY OF ISSUES, INCLUDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND THE RENEGOTIATED U.S. MEXICO CANADA TRADE AGREEMENT THAT WAS SIGNED INTO LAW BY PRESIDENT TRUMP IN DECEMBER.

EVERY SINGLE STEP THAT CONGRESS HAS TAKEN DURING THIS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN BIPARTISAN.

WE PASSED FOUR BILLS WITH DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT AND REPUBLICAN SUPPORT SIGNED INTO LAW BY TRUMP.

WE BELIEVE AT THIS MOMENT IT'S NECESSARY FOR THE HEROES ACT TO MOVE FORWARD AND THAT IS WHY WE PASSED IT IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

I'M HOPEFUL, YOU'RE STARTING TO SEE MANY OF THE REPUBLICAN SENATORS BEGIN TO PUBLICLY EXPRESS THE POSITION THAT GIVEN THE RISING UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS, GIVING THE RISING DEATH RATE, GIVEN THE TROUBLING FIGURES CONNECTED TO THE ECONOMY WE NEED TO ACT AND ACT DECISIVELY AND HOPEFULLY WE'LL CONTINUE TO FIND THAT COMMON GROUND.

AGAIN, SPEAKING WITH NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE H HAKEEM JEFFRIES, REPRESENTING THE 8th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT AND REPRESENTING THE HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON IN WASHINGTON.

ONE LAST QUESTION ABOUT THE PROPOSAL AND THEN A COUPLE OTHER THINGS I WANT TO CHAT ABOUT.

AN ISSUE RAISED COMING OUT OF THE SENATE IS THE IDEA OF PROVIDING LIABILITY PROTECTION FOR BUSINESSES THAT REOPEN.

EVERYONE IS SAYING WE NEED TO GET BUSINESS GOING AGAIN.

BUSINESSES REOPENED, ESPECIALLY SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE SO MUCH IN DANGER OF DISAPPEARING.

A CONCERN BY MANY OF THOSE BUSINESSES IS WAIT A MINUTE, IF I OPEN UP HERE, I CAN'T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SOMEBODY WHO WALKS IN TO MY DELI AND SUBSEQUENTLY GETS, UNFORTUNATELY, COVID-19 AND IS GOING TO SUE ME AND WE KNOW THOSE TYPES OF LAWSUITS ARE POSSIBLE OUT THERE.

WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON PROVIDING SOME SORT OF PROTECTION AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE NEXT BILL COMING OUT OF CONGRESS TO PROVIDE PROTECTION FOR THESE FOLKS?

IT'S IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT'S IN THE HEROES ACT AS A FOUNDATION FOR GETTING THE ECONOMY RESTARTED CORRECTLY.

WHICH INCLUDES RESOURCES FOR TESTING, TRACING AND TO MAKE SURE EVERY AMERICAN AFFLICTED WITH COVID-19 WITH RECEIVE HIGH QUALITY TREATMENT.

WE ALSO HAVE TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BY ANOTHER ROUND OF DIRECT STIMULUS CHECKS GIVEN THE ECONOMIC PAIN THAT PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING AND THAT'S WHAT THE HEROES ACT WILL DO.

THE 8$875 BILLION THAT WE ALLOCATED TO SUPPORT STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IS TO SUPPORT PLA POLICE OFFICERS, FIREFIGHTERS, TRANSIT WORKERS, SANITATION EMPLOYEES AND THOSE WHO HELP KEEP OUR CITIES, TOWNS AND COUNTIES RUNNING EVEN IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC.

THESE ARE CRITICAL THINGS THAT ARE THE FOUNDATION OF THE HEROES ACT ALONG WITH 1$175 BILLION TO MAKE SURE THAT TENANTS AND HOMEOWNERS CAN STAY IN THEIR APARTMENTS OR HOMES.

THAT SAID, IT'S APPROPRIATE FOR US TO LOOK AT THE THINGS THAT CONGRESS DID IN THE AFTERMATH OF SEPTEMBER 11th TO DEAL WITH THAT TYPE OF TRAGEDY IN THE CONTEXT OF ENSURING THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE RECEIVED FAIR, ROBUST AND JUST COMPENSATION WHEN THEY ARE WRONGED, OR HURT OR KILLED.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME NOT OVERWHELMING THE SYSTEM BECAUSE OF THE NATURE OF THE CATASTROPHIC EVENT LIKE WHAT HAPPENED IN 9/11 AND WHAT IS OCCURRING IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS PANDEMIC.

SO WHAT CONGRESS DID WAS CREATE A VICTIM'S COMPENSATION FUND IN THE AFTERMATH OF SEPTEMBER 11th.

CONGRESS ALSO CREATED A FUND TO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR FIRST RESPONDERS WHO WERE AFFLICTED WITH ILLNESS AND CANCER AS A RESULT OF WORK THAT WAS DONE IN THE AFTERMATH OF SEPTEMBER 11th, AND CONGRESS CREATED A TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE PROGRAM.

SO THOSE ARE THREE MODELS THAT CAN PERHAPS BE LOOKED AT AS CHAIRMAN JERRY NADLER OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE INDICATED IN THE CONTEXT OF WHAT WE MIGHT DO HERE.

WE CANNOT PROVIDE BLANKET IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY WHICH WILL JUST INCENTIVIZE SOME BAD ACTORS NOT TO DO THE RIGHT THING, FOLLOW THE PUBLIC HEALTH PROTOCOLS AND ENDANGER THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

LET ME BRING YOU BACK LOCALLY FOR A MOMENT.

ONE OF THE IDEAS YOU'VE BEEN CHAMPIONING IS IN LINE WITH THE CONCEPT OF HAVING TO GET TESTING DONE AND MAKE IT AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE.

THE IDEA OF TESTING BEING MADE AVAILABLE IN CHURCHES.

HOW HAS THAT BEEN WORKING?

WE INITIALLY IDENTIFIED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GOVERNOR CUOMO APPROXIMATELY 25 OR SO CHURCHES THROUGHOUT THE FIVE BOROUGHS THAT COULD SERVE AS NEIGHBORHOOD LOCATIONS FOR CORONAVIRUS TESTING.

SO THAT OUR HOSPITALS AND CLINICS WEREN'T OVERWHELMED AND THAT PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE GOING TO A HOSPITAL IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC CAN STILL ASCERTAIN THEIR STATUS IN ORDER TO TAKE THE APPROPRIATE STEPS OR RECEIVE TREATMENT IF NECESSARY.

SO THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN NEIGHBORHOODS LIKE EAST NEW YORK AND BEDFORD-STUYVESANT AND IN QUEENS HAVE BEEN TESTED AS A RESULT OF THIS UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE STATE, CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION AND HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND I KNOW GOVERNOR CUOMO IS LOOKING TO SCALE IT UP EVEN FURTHER BECAUSE WHAT THE DATA HAS SHOWN US IS IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR THAT ARE LOW INCOME OF NATURE YOU HAVE HIGHER RATES OF INFECTION.

AND WE NEED TO LET THE DATA DRIVE THE RESOURCES.

SO UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAS TAKEN PLACE WILL BE IMPORTANT BY PROVIDING ACCESS TO THIS COMMUNITY-BASED TESTING IN CHURCHES.

CONGRESSMAN JEFFRIES, ONCE AGAIN, IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU WITH US TO SHARE SOME OF YOUR THOUGHTS.

THERE'S SO MUCH MORE GOING ON OUT THERE, SO MUCH MORE I WANTED TO TALK WITH YOU ABOUT.

MY HOPE IS WE'LL GET YOU TO COME BACK AND JOIN US AND CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATIONS SOMETIMES.

THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU ARE DOING AND ALL THAT EVERYBODY IS DOING DOWN IN WASHINGTON TO PROVIDE THIS ASSISTANCE THAT IS SO DESPERATELY NEEDED.

AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU AGAIN REAL SOON.

YOU BE WELL.

LOOK FORWARD TO IT.

THANK YOU.

FOR THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND YOUR COMMUNITY VISIT US ON METROFOCUS.ORG, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

GOOD NIGHT AND STAY SAFE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B.

POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P.

WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- ♪ 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY -- ♪

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019