There’s some good news for the music business in Washington DC: House Democrats think they’ve found their next caucus chair Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, a champion of music creators, who has served as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 8th Congressional District since 2013. Jefferies, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, co-sponsored the Music Modernization Act, the most important copyright legislation passed in decades, as well as the Copyright Alternatives to Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020, known as the Case Also called act. He is also known to be a huge hip-hop fan, once giving a shout-out to The Notorious B.I.G. from the floor of the House on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Formal voting has not yet taken place. But the party appears to be coalescing around Jefferies, who was endorsed as a successor by the outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) If elected, Jeffries would become the first black leader of the congressional caucus, as well as the presumptive speaker if Democrats are to win back the House majority. And although it’s hard to say whether serious copyright legislation will come before Congress, having creators and copyright advocates in such an important role can only help rights holders.
“Mr. Jeffrey has been a steadfast supporter of songwriters, and as the original co-sponsor of both the Songwriter Equity Act and the Music Modernization Act, he has fought for fairness for songwriters throughout his career,” said NMPA President and CEO said david israeli, “Her leadership in this powerful role bodes well for the future of songwriters.”
Jeffries was honored by the RIAA in September, along with hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash and MC Lyte. ,Board sponsored this event.)
“It’s hard to think of two more unlikely leaders working in the trenches of music policy and shaping the bipartisan consensus for the digital streaming era than Kevin McCarthy and Hakeem Jeffries,” mitch glazierRIAA President and CEO. “A House led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Democratic leader Hakeem Jefferies will present a dynamic duo to the music community.”
Before entering politics in 2007, Jefferies worked as an attorney, first in New York for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – where he served as Hall from NMPA’s General Counsel. Danielle Aguirre Then to Viacom. At Paul Weiss, he worked on some copyright cases, and he represented Lauryn Hill in a case brought by some of his colleagues. Israeli said, “He has a deep understanding of copyright law.” “He may know this subject better than anyone else in Congress.”
Jefferies may be one of the bigger music fans in Congress. In addition to bashing Biggie, she has written about her favorite female rappers, and hosts an annual “Hip-Hop on the Hill” political fundraiser. “Watching hip-hop evolve – with Grandmaster Flash, and then Run-DMC, and then artists from the 80s and 90s – has been a great journey,” he explained. Board in a 2018 interview about his history as a fan of the genre. “What has been most compelling to me is that hip-hop has been a vehicle for telling the story of urban America and black America in such an artistic, poetic, and authentic fashion.”
Jefferies has certainly been involved with a number of issues. He advocates for police reform, and co-sponsored the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act, aka The First Step Act, which reformed prison and sentencing laws. he voted for impeachment President Donald TrumpBut he has also been known to work well with Republicans, including former Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.), with whom he co-sponsored the Music Modernization Act, as well as the First Step Act. (The two even created a summer playlist.) Jeffries has also been a prominent Democratic fund-raiser.
Some of this has put Jefferies at odds with some of his more radical colleagues, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Dn.Y.). Jefferies is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but his politics are more centrist as well as more pragmatic. His ability to compromise could be crucial, as he would have to work with both the Republican House majority as well as progressive members of his own party. He recently told CNN that “while we can sometimes have noisy conversations about how we can make progress happen for the American people, we’ve seen Speakers Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn Under the leadership, we have been able consistently. to come together.”