A Simple Motto for Complex Problems

Do you Believe In The BX? We need your help!

This election in the Bronx comes at a pivotal moment; it represents a once-in-a generation opportunity to make bold change that improves lives, creates new opportunities, and empowers people to realize their full potential.

Michael Blake is not only of this new generation, but he is someone who knows from lived experience what it’s like to struggle and succeed in the Bronx. This election represents an opportunity to elect someone who genuinely understands our hopes and needs, who will fight to empower us, who is not afraid to shake things up in Washington, and who has the federal leadership experience and vision to make real change.

Healthcare

We’ve heard the familiar refrain that “healthcare is a human right, not a privilege,” but it’s time that we actually act to make that principle a reality.  

  • During my time working under President Obama, I worked on the historic Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation, which dramatically expanded insurance to over 20 million more Americans and made a particularly large impact on African Americans, children, and small business owners.
  • In the New York State Assembly, I was a lead sponsor on an initiative to increase diversity in medical school scholarships so that we have a healthcare workforce that reflects the multicultural character of the population it serves.
  • I’ll work to empower the federal government to negotiate fair drug prices with pharmaceutical companies so that all Americans can obtain their prescriptions at a reasonable cost.
  • I will defend the ACA against any legislation that opposes to repeal, defund, or otherwise weaken that law.
  • It is absolutely unacceptable that doctors and nurses do not have adequate protective equipment to face the influx of patients during this coronavirus crisis.  It’s time that the federal government take responsibility for the health and safety of the professionals who are helping to keep Americans alive during this incredibly difficult time.  That means allocating ample funding for critical supplies and ensuring that our national stockpiles are prepared for future pandemics.

Criminal Justice Reform

In order to be truly “just,” a system must be both fair and equitable.  Today, however, we have a criminal justice system that is unfair, overly punitive, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.

  • As a member of the New York State Assembly, I have fought tirelessly to pass some of the most transformative criminal justice reform legislation in the history of my state, including creating a prosecutorial misconduct review panel, decriminalizing simple marijuana possession, and raising the age of criminal responsibility so that children are no longer incarcerated as adults.
  • I’ve also been on the front lines of reforming open discovery, passing speedy trial reform, and implementing historic bail reform legislation that has released thousands of legally innocent New Yorkers from jail.
  • I will scale up the efforts I have made at the state level and take a more restorative approach to criminal justice by reforming sentencing laws and working to eliminate racial disparities in policing and punishment.
  • I’ll also work to ensure due process and hold law enforcement accountable with national conduct standards.

Climate Change

Climate change poses an existential threat to all of our communities, including the 15th Congressional District, which has always been my home.  It’s time for elected leaders to advocate on behalf of their constituents to ensure access to clean water, clean air, safe housing, and disaster-resistant infrastructure.

  • I have co-sponsored sweeping climate change legislation in the New York State Assembly that set statewide greenhouse gas emission limits, created a “climate justice working group” to be attentive to the needs of disadvantaged communities, and established a historic renewable energy program to help transition the state to clean sources of energy production.
  • I’m a former policy director for Green for All, an organization that works to advance “green,” climate-sensitive policies while simultaneously working to lift disadvantaged communities out of poverty.
  • I will work to build public-private-nonprofit partnerships to ensure that the future clean economy brings good jobs, better health, and opportunities to historically underserved communities.
  • My top priorities include:
    • Imposing a moratorium on all new fossil fuel development on federal lands.
    • Limiting the destructive practice of fracking.
    • Working to transition both my own district and the entire country from coal and gas to clean, renewable energy sources.  This involves providing more substantial tax credits for producers of wind and solar energy and imposing higher taxes on the country’s biggest emitters of fossil fuels.  
    • Empowering low-income and minority neighborhoods to participate in the clean-energy effort so that they can reap the benefits of a green economy, safe water, and clean air. We must also provide these communities with necessary infrastructure to protect against extreme weather caused by climate change and ensure that they have equal access to new “green” jobs and other opportunities.  
    • Creating stronger protections against methane pollution which contributes to negative health consequences in the Bronx.
    • Supporting clean water laws, including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

African American Agenda

Enduring racial disparities are an unfortunate reality in most communities across the country today. Throughout my career, I’ve been an advocate for African American people, and I’ll continue that advocacy in Congress to ensure that my community gets what they deserve.

  • In the New York State Assembly, I’ve been a leading advocate for funding for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) so that these business owners have access to capital to thrive as entrepreneurs.
  • I directed African American outreach for President Obama, meeting with prominent leaders from the community and incorporating their concerns into the presidential agenda.
  • I implemented President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) initiative at the state level in New York, making my state the first in the country to have this program.  MBK gives young men of color the educational and vocational resources they need to thrive and ultimately obtain good-paying jobs.
  • I’ll work to secure more funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which for centuries have served as thriving hubs for African American intellectuals.
  • I will work to secure even more funding for MBK so that all young men of color have access to a high-quality education and stable, good-paying jobs in adulthood.
  • I’ll advocate for more funding and research for medical issues that disproportionately impact the black community, such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia, high blood pressure, and maternal health-related issues.
  • I will strengthen Title VII of the Civil Rights Act so that employers are not able to discriminate against employees on the basis of race or other characteristics.
  • It is also critical that we expand access to the ballot box by strengthening the Voting Rights Act (VRA).  I will work to reinstate provisions of the VRA that required the federal government to review state photo ID laws so we can ensure that states are not able to systematically exclude and disenfranchise poor and minority voters from the polls.

Puerto Rican Agenda

In recent years, Puerto Rico has endured enormous hardship.  Yet every time I visit the island, I am floored by how resilient Puerto Ricans are in the face of tragedy.  It’s time that Congress treat Puerto Ricans as fully American, not as second-class citizens.

  • As Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), I’ve worked to transition Puerto Ricans who have moved to the mainland U.S., helping to ensure that their journey is as seamless as possible.  In that capacity, I also helped with fundraising drives after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.
  • After Puerto Rico’s devastating earthquakes in 2019, I made two trips to the island to assess the damage, speak with local leaders, and participate in relief efforts.
  • Puerto Rico is still in critical need of funding to rebuild infrastructure from Hurricane Maria and the series of devastating earthquakes.  I will be a vocal advocate for that funding in Congress, including for a sustainable electrical grid that is resilient against natural shocks.
  • Part of that rebuilding effort also includes allocating funding for mental health support in Puerto Rico.  Crisis hotlines are not enough, and Puerto Ricans desperately need federal investments in mental health facilities and professionals to help people cope with the devastation.

Dominican Agenda

Dominicans are one of the fastest-growing Latinx groups within the United States. New York State is home to the most Dominicans outside of the Dominican Republic itself. The Bronx in particular is home to countless Dominicans, and Congressional District 15 is home to some of the nation’s leading Dominican advocacy groups.  It is imperative that in today’s political climate our Dominican neighbors are appreciated, respected and supported.

  • I’ve long been an advocate for my Dominican friends and neighbors, collaborating with local interest groups across the 15th Congressional District.
  • I’ll advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a pathway for earned legalization for current undocumented immigrants. This includes expanding pathways to citizenship for Dreamers and parents of Dreamers, as well as increasing visas for people residing in the Dominican Republic. 
  • I will continue to support small businesses and expand minority- and women-owned business enterprises by providing them with access to capital.
  • I’ll work to increase Title VI funding to ensure adequate language access to individuals with limited English proficiency.
  • I will vehemently oppose the Trump administration’s recent proposed rule change on the inadmissibility of “public charges” and do everything in my power to make Dominican immigrants feel safe and at home in New York City.

African Agenda

New York City is home to the largest number of sub-Saharan immigrants, with many residing in the Bronx. African immigrants contribute greatly to the vibrance and resiliency of the Bronx’s culture. 

  • As a lifelong member of the South Bronx community, I have always celebrated the contributions of African immigrants to our neighborhood.  It’s time they benefit from concrete policies coming out of Washington.
  • I will work to support Muslim taxi drivers against discriminatory attacks, using the full force of law.
  • I’ll advocate for halal options in schools so that children and their families feel that their communities care about their food preferences.
  • I’ll support the creation of a “Little Africa” so that we can all celebrate the cultural, musical, and culinary contributions of this community.

Garifuna Agenda

The Garifuna people represent yet another group that greatly enhances the incredible multiculturalism of the Bronx.

  • I’ve supported and funded local Garifuna organizations in the Bronx.
  • I’ll advocate for the preservation of the Garifuna language and culture.
  • I will also work to catalog the contributions made by the Garifuna community to the Bronx.

Economic, Jobs and Justice Agenda

Business in the Bronx is booming, yet according to statistical data the Bronx is one of the poorest communities in the country. The Bronx has the potential to be a beacon of hope and a blueprint for economic progress throughout the world. District 15 is one of the most diverse and multicultural places in the nation, and it is home to countless immigrants and entrepreneurs with incredible potential. I am dedicated to investing in small businesses and supporting entrepreneurship and living wages for the people of District 15.

  • In the New York State Assembly, I was at the forefront of the effort to raise the state minimum age to $15 per hour.
  • I started the Souls of Poor Folk, an interfaith coalition dedicated to work across all denominations to address and combat poverty in the 15th Congressional District.
  • I’ve also been a leading advocate for funding for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) so that these business owners have access to capital to thrive as entrepreneurs.
  • I crafted legislation to ensure that MWBEs who contract with New York State are able to get paid more quickly—within 15 days, instead of 30.
  • I’ll expand eligibility into the MWBE program for small business owners in District 15 and create an MWBE Bill of Rights to ensure our small businesses are paid in a timely manner and have a fair say in our economic system.  
  • I’ll work to finally raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
  • According to Census data, most people in District 15 are female. Many women are paid far less for the same work as their male counterparts, and for women of color that pay disparity is even greater. This is unacceptable, and I am dedicated to ensuring that the wages that people earn are based on their work, not on their sex.
  • It is imperative that we support our immigrant entrepreneurs and provide a platform to ensure their businesses succeed. I will advocate for immigrant businesses in Congress and continue to work on my Silver Rights Initiative – a financial and entrepreneurial literacy program – to ensure that all people in District 15 are equipped to succeed.   
  • We live in a global economy that thrives on diversity. Throughout my career, I have focused on cultivating the next generation of leaders and expanding opportunities for all, including those in corporate America, which is why I encourage and support Corporate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). DEI is the future of our economy and I will ensure that District 15 is at the forefront of DEI initiatives. 

Youth & Education

I am living proof that when a community invests in its youth and provides each child with the right tools and opportunities, its children will succeed. As a product of the Bronx public school system, I know the challenges that students in District 15 must surmount, but I also know their potential and believe in their future.  In short, my story is echoed by the words of the late Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall: “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”

  • As a member of the New York State Assembly, I’ve long advocated for free in-state tuition at State University of New York (SUNY) institutions.
  • I implemented President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” (MBK) initiative at the state level in New York, making my state the first in the country to have this program.  MBK gives young men of color the educational and vocational resources they need to thrive and ultimately obtain good-paying jobs.
  • I will work with my colleagues to draft legislation that would significantly decrease the cost of college, and reform our broken student loan system.
  • I’ll work to finally make “pre-k for all” a reality so that low-income children have the same changes to succeed as their wealthier peers.
  • I will also work to expand public-school cooperative programs so that students can graduate with work experience and trade skills.
  • I will support Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A funding because I believe if we invest in our students, educators and administrators, we will see tremendous social and economic rewards. For too long, the lowest-achieving schools have languished without adequate federal support, and it is an injustice that our system often pushes the worst-performing teachers into the poorest schools. Title II, Part A funding is critical in the effort to provide the best possible academic resources to the highest-needs children. Teachers, too, deserve better training and more institutional support so that they feel better equipped to handle the diverse needs of low-income students. I also support Title IV, Part A block grants to expand STEM, music, and art programs, college and career counseling services, mental health and physical education, and drug and violence prevention. Since those funds are distributed based on the Title I formula, low-income students will finally gain access to the resources that their wealthier peers have enjoyed for decades. 

Seniors

I believe that everyone should be able to retire with dignity and age with respect in their community, which is why I am proud to take a senior-focused agenda to Washington.

  • I have been on the front lines of community outreach, helping to ensure that our seniors are taken care of in times of crisis.  In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I am working with World Central Kitchen to distribute many thousands of meals to Bronxites in need—particularly seniors, who too often struggle with food insecurity.
  • I’ll continue to fight for affordable and rent-stabilized housing for seniors. 
  • I will oppose any efforts to privatize Medicare and Social Security, which are crucial resources for senior citizens in my district.
  • I will also work to ensure that all seniors have access to high-quality, community-based long-term supports and services so that no family has to worry about where and how their elderly loved ones will receive necessary care.

Women

Women deserve an advocate who cares about their interests and will fight on their behalf in Washington.  

  • In the New York State Assembly, I have consistently supported a woman’s right to exercise control over her own body, including expanding access to the full spectrum of reproductive health resources, by voting for the Women’s Reproductive Health Act which guarantees a woman’s right to choose in New York.
  • I’ve been a leading advocate for funding for minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) so that women have more opportunities to thrive as entrepreneurs, with ample access to capital and other financial support.
  • I will strengthen provisions in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
  • I will support the Freedom of Choice Act, which would carve a woman’s right to choose into federal law.
  • I’ll work to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which currently prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions except in extreme circumstances.  The needs of low-income women are too often neglected, and a woman’s access to abortion should never be impeded by her financial status, which is why repealing Hyde is so critical. 
  • Women are some of the Bronx’s strongest and most successful entrepreneurs.  I’ll expand eligibility into the MWBE program for small business owners in District 15 and create an MWBE Bill of Rights to ensure our small businesses are paid in a timely manner and have a fair say in our economic system.  
  • I will fight to pass legislation that finally guarantees equal pay for equal work and end the gender pay gap once and for all.

Veterans

My oldest brother is a retired First Sergeant and combat Army veteran, and there are tens of thousands of veterans who call the Bronx their home.  I deeply admire and respect these brave servicemen and women and look forward to having the opportunity to support them in Washington.

  • As a member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in the New York State Assembly, I sponsored and passed legislation that helps veterans gain academic credit at SUNY and CUNY institutions.
  • I created a program that establishes an alternative resolution program for service members and veterans accused of certain felonies.
  • My Assembly office has held annual Veterans Day events to honor veterans in my district whose accomplishments too often go unnoticed.
  • I’ll support legislation to fully staff and fund VA in-house care and will oppose any efforts to privatize veterans’ healthcare.
  • I will make every effort to ensure that veterans receive the highest-quality care that addresses the totality of their physical and psychological needs.
  • The best way to protect our servicemen and women is to stop unnecessary troop deployments for foreign wars.  It’s time to remove our troops from endless conflict in the Middle East.  I’ll also oppose any presidential efforts to escalate tensions with Iran so that we avoid disastrous conflicts that put our fellow Americans into harm’s way.

LGBTQ Agenda

The Trump administration has shown a blatant disregard for the LGBTQ community.  It is time that the federal government pay the LGBTQ community the respect it deserves.

  • I cosponsored the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which added gender identity and expression as a protected class in New York State’s laws against hate crimes and protections for human rights.
  • I also voted to ban conversion therapy in New York—a destructive practice that can ruin a person’s life and destroy his or her self-worth.
  • During President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, I led a national call with clergy members to emphasize the importance of marriage equality.
  • I will fight for an LGBTQ bill of rights at the federal level to enshrine the basic dignities entitled to this community in federal law.
  • I’ll work to re-commit Congress to the task of passing the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in federally funded programs and other areas.
  • I will ensure that projects like Crotona Senior Housing in the Bronx are properly funded and serve as a blueprint for future projects to serve the LGBTQ community in District 15.
  • I’ll strengthen domestic violence protections for members of the LGBTQ community, expand access to housing, healthcare, and employment resources, and work to end disparities that negatively affect LGBTQ youth in the criminal justice system.

People with Disabilities

Disability is not an abstract concept to me. It’s a very personal one. As a baby, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition and was able to get the urgent care I needed. I firmly believe that kind of care should be the norm, and not the exception, for all Bronxites.

  • In the Obama White House, I regularly engaged with disability advocates and worked on issues like unjust police violence and disproportionate numbers of Black and Latinx students in special education programs.
  • In 2015, I marched in the Disability Pride Parade in Madison Square Park to show my support for this important community and to honor the 25-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • As a member of the New York State Assembly, I’ve worked closely with the New York Disability Vote Network (NYDVN) to increase the involvement of the disability community in the political process.
  • I will fight any attempts to devalue, limit, or shrink the scope of the ADA.
  • Effective disability inclusion starts at birth. I support increased accessibility and active inclusion of children with disabilities and parents with disabilities in early childhood education programs. This will include tax credits to incentivize the removal of discriminatory barriers and training staff in supporting students and parents with disabilities. 
  • I support increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the right of student with disabilities to maximize their time in general education settings with supports and services they are entitled to by law. I support limits on the use of restraint and isolation of students with disabilities and will defend the implementation of the “Equity in IDEA” rule to ensure that Black and Latino students with disabilities are not being unfairly placed or disciplined in special education settings.  
  • College students with disabilities should not have their financial aid impacted by the need to take leave to address disability-related health concerns. I support changes to Pell Grants to ensure students do not have to choose between their health and education. 
  • As a longtime supporter of #ItsOnUs, I know that students with disabilities are disproportionately more likely to be victims of sexual abuse or assault while in college. I believe colleges and universities must ensure that school health centers, campus security, and crisis intervention programs comply with the ADA and Section 504 and have proper services in place to support victims with disabilities and victims who acquire disabilities and trauma as a result of the violence they’ve endured.
  • I’ll work to increase funding to ensure that childcare centers have resources they need to be made accessible to and inclusive of both parents and children with disabilities. 
  • Healthcare is a top priority facing people with disabilities and their families. I will not support any bill that removes insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  Mental health care is also an essential part of any healthcare agenda. In Congress, I will advocate for increased community-based mental health services, supportive employment programs, wraparound services for children, and programming that reflects the importance of trauma-informed care and trauma-responsive practice. 
  • I will push back on attacks on Medicaid and Social Security, resisting the attempt to block-grant or add annual or per capita caps on services that disabled Americans and their families depend on for survival.  
  • No healthcare plan is complete that lacks a focus on high quality, community-based, long-term supports and services, to support the right of people with disabilities and seniors to age in place. I will advocate for healthcare policies that ensure that LTSS is central, and not an afterthought.
  • 44% of public housing units include a person with a disability, but only 3% are accessible units. This keeps people with disabilities segregated from their families, from jobs, from schools and society. I will advocate for an increase in public housing funding and units, and an increase in percentage of new units made accessible to people with disabilities.
  • I believe in the right of disabled workers to get fair pay for a day’s work and will support elimination of sub-minimum wages as part of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. I also support the need for increased transition services to help students with disabilities get access to services they need to successfully move from high school to college or work. There needs to be increased investment in internships and apprenticeship programs supporting youth with disabilities.
  • Disabled-owned small businesses are not included in criteria for minority-owned small businesses with the Small Business Administration. I’ll advocate for the inclusion of disability as an included category to open up additional funding and support for this growing network of small business owners.
  • Over 60% of polling places in the country are inaccessible in one way, shape, or form to the disability community. People with disabilities have the same right to a fair and private vote as people without disabilities. I support expanding early voting and the locations where automatic voter registration takes place to ensure that people with disabilities are registered to vote and have as much time as necessary to cast their votes.

Housing

As a first-generation American born and raised in the Bronx, I understand the importance of ensuring that my fellow neighbors have safe and affordable housing. As a child, my family was homeless, and so I know on a deeply personal level the effect that homelessness has on a family. Put simply, housing is a human right, and elected leaders should treat it as such.

  • As a member of the New York State Assembly, I advocated for and helped pass some of the most comprehensive tenant reform laws in the country.
  • I’ve served as Chairman of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing subcommittee in the Assembly, and I voted for a critical piece of legislation that demands greater transparency and accountability from the Mitchell-Lama Housing program.
  • I helped secure a historic sum of $2.2 million for New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) improvements for buildings in the Bronx.
  • I will work to fund the construction of more affordable housing units both in the Bronx and across the country.
  • I’ll work to enshrine tenant protections in federal law and increase federal investment in oversight capacities.