On Wednesday morning, Representative Hakeem Jeffries was elected to be the next leader of the House Democrats, ushering in a new, considerably younger generation of top officials for the party.
He will succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has led the caucus since 2003 and was the first woman to serve in that role. The 52-year-old Jeffries, who will serve as the House minority leader after Republicans narrowly won the chamber in November, will become the first Black person to lead a party in Congress.
Jeffries was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, where he served for six years. In 2012, he ran for the congressional seat in the Eighth District and won, representing a region that spans large swaths of Brooklyn and a part of Queens until the recent round of redistricting. He was elected by his colleagues to be the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in 2018.
Before entering the minority, House Democrats are reshuffling their leadership altogether. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who are both in their 80s like Pelosi, will stay in Congress but stated their intentions to also leave their high-ranking roles following her announcement. Clyburn plans to run for the assistant leader position.
Representatives Katherine Clark of Massachusetts (59) and Pete Aguilar of California (a spring chicken at 43) will join Jeffries as House minority whip and caucus chair, respectively.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the chamber’s floor Wednesday morning, calling the election of Jeffries, a fellow Brooklyn native, “a turning point in the history of the United States Congress.”
“When I first met him, I thought the same thing I thought when I first met Speaker Pelosi: Here’s someone who has it all,” Schumer said.
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