Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) was elected to lead House Democrats, becoming the first Black person to serve as head of a party in Congress.
Jeffries will succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as party leader, after she announced earlier this month that she would not seek the post after a 20-year tenure, telling members that the time had come for a new generation. Democrats will be in the minority in the next Congress, albeit Republicans will have only a slim majority following an unexpectedly weak showing in the midterms.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Jeffries ascension to the top role was a “turning point in the history of the United States Congress.”
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He said that he has known Jeffries since before the days he was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. “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.
Jeffries, 52, has served as House Democratic caucus chair since 2019 and, before that, as co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. He was first elected to the House in 2012.
Democrats also chose Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) to serve as party whip and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) as caucus chair.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also announced that he would not seek a leadership post, while Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said that he would not seek the No. 3 role but would seek to remain “at the leadership table” as assistant Democratic leader.
Pelosi will continue to serve in the next Congress, and House Democrats voted to give her the honorary title of Speaker Emerita.
Pelosi said in a statement, “Together, this new generation of leaders reflects the vibrancy and diversity of our great nation – and they will reinvigorate our Caucus with their new energy, ideas and perspective.”
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