In his first trip to Washington since taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio had some tough words for Congress. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the star attraction at a gathering of mayors, Bill de Blasio showed he plans to use his growing clout to push his agenda in cities beyond New York.
"We are in the midst of an inequality crisis," de Blasio said.
At a speech before the U.S. Conference of Mayors Thursday, de Blasio told his colleagues that it is up to them to address income inequality.
That's not to say that he's letting the federal government off the hook, though. He blasted Congressional gridlock, warning lawmakers that they will face the consequences if they don't respond to the needs of mayors.
"We are at the grassroots, and if we move the hearts and minds of our people, our federal representatives are going to start to feel it," de Blasio said.
Specifically, de Blasio is putting pressure on Congress to get its act together on funding infrastructure like mass transit and affordable housing initiatives.
When it comes to paying for such programs, de Blasio, who is adamant about a tax hike on high earners to fund pre-kindergarten, appears more flexible.
"I personally believe there will have to be new revenue in the mix, but i'm a little agnostic," he said. "If Washington has another way, if Congress has another way to fund it, God bless America."
De Blasio is following in the footsteps of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who lobbied Congress on a number of issues, most notably illegal guns.
Like Bloomberg, he is going to face pushback. Already, Republicans have signaled that they want to use de Blasio as a liberal boogeyman.
At this event, at least, there was no sign of hostility. In fact, one politician who went up to the new mayor not only praised de Blasio, but his now-famous son, Dante.
"Whenever I go talk to a lot of our youth, whether it's in school or after-school programs, they all talk about his son and that Afro," said Mayor Kenny Wright of Portsmouth, V.A.
Maybe de Blasio needs to take Dante on the road.