Lawmakers are back in Washington following the summer recess. Democratic New York Congressman Antonio Delgado held a conference call with reporters Tuesday to discuss his activities in the 19th District in recent weeks, including a focus on affordable housing.
The first-term Congressman from the 19th District also answered questions about other topics, such as President Trump inviting delegates from Afghanistan, including the Taliban, to talks at Camp David in hopes of ending America’s 18-year conflict in the region. Trump then cancelled the meeting and declared peace negotiations “dead.”
“I have a hard time, particularly given the proximity to 9/11,” Delgado says. “I just have a really hard time understanding why he thought that was a wise decision, and I’m happy that ultimately it did not happen.”
Just ahead of the anniversary of the terror attacks, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation establishing September 11th Remembrance Day. The new law allows for a moment of silence in public schools across New York at the beginning of the school day every September 11th to encourage dialogue and education in the classroom. Delgado called the measure a powerful concept.
“I think there’s something to be said about the community of young people processing the information collectively, and doing so in a way that is solemn and really speaks to the power of who we are as Americans, what we can overcome,” says Delgado.
With September 11th remembrance ceremonies Wednesday, Delgado commended Congress’s passage of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — which extends coverage for first responders with Ground Zero-related health illnesses for the next 75 years. President Trump signed the measure at the end of July.
Meantime, the House Judiciary Committee was set to vote Thursday to establish rules for hearings on impeachment, escalating the panel's investigations of President Trump even as many Democrats remain wary of the effort. The move is not changing Delgado’s stance.
“It’s just a continuation. I mean, the chairman actually has said as much. He’s just basically continuing what they’ve been doing,” says Delgado. “And, in that sense, nothing really has changed, and nor has my opinion.”
He wants to see the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election continue, and hear directly from officials such as former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
As for affordable housing, Delgado believes services like Airbnb can detract from such development.
“There are currently no federal restrictions on Airbnb. So you don’t even have to live in the community or reside, you can just own a building on a commercial level and arbitrarily rent that out as you see fit to anybody you see fit, and that drives the cost up of the housing in the surrounding area and it takes away properties from those who live in the community,” Delgado says. “So I think we need to take a second look at what we can do to draw some proper regulations in that space.”
On another front, he thinks the federal government can look to states to do more in fair share housing.
“And by that, I mean, what are they doing to ensure that regions across the state have an adequate amount and are taking on the load. You have communities who sometimes just don’t want affordable housing in their communities. They view it as a negative for the community. And I think states have taken real steps to make sure that that doesn’t happen," Delgado says. "And, to the extent we want to provide funding for affordable housing, we could be better at saying to states, we need to see what your plan is to ensure that these funds are fairly distributed across the state.”