Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: “We are Not Going to Pay a Ransom Note to Extremists”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is the first Black leader of a party in Congress and successor to Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the leader of House Democrats.[0] After last year's midterm elections, his party is narrowly in the minority, with Republicans possessing a four seat majority in the House.[1] Jeffries is confident that his caucus will have a say in decisions when the GOP faces internal disagreements.[1]

Jeffries, a native of Brooklyn, is a son of public employees who became a corporate lawyer, and then rose in New York's bare-knuckle politics.[0] He was elected to Congress in 2012 and has since displayed great effectiveness as one of the managers of President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial. In addition, he has demonstrated leadership abilities within the Democratic party and has risen in its ranks.[0]

When asked about working with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Jeffries said there is “a difference between a compromise and a ransom note. And so let me be clear. We are not going to pay a ransom note to extremists in the other party.”[0] He added that there is “a time and a place to have a discussion about future spending” and he thinks those conversations should happen later in the year when Congress traditionally decides spending levels through its appropriations process.[0]

Jeffries also spoke about the upcoming debt ceiling negotiation, saying that they will be able to “convince a handful of reasonable Republicans in the House to do what the business community throughout America have suggested needs to be done. What the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes needs to be done. What Wall Street says needs to be done. Which is to make sure we pay America's bills that have already been incurred.”[0]

This interview was produced and edited for air by Julie Depenbrock, Barry Gordemer, and Simone Popperl.[0] Padmananda Rama edited it for digital and contributed to this story.[0] House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries spoke during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 26, 2023.[2]

0. “Hakeem Jeffries says Democrats won't pay a ‘ransom note' to GOP over debt ceiling” Aspen Public Radio, 27 Jan. 2023,

1. “Hakeem Jeffries says Democrats won't pay a ‘ransom note' to GOP over debt ceiling” WRVO Public Media, 27 Jan. 2023,

2. “Democratic House leader Jeffries says Trump running ‘low-energy' campaign for president” Fox News, 26 Jan. 2023,