Hakeem Jeffries elected House Democratic chief in historic first


Washington — House Democrats elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York as their subsequent occasion chief in a unanimous vote on Wednesday, ushering in a generational shift as Democrats put together to relinquish management of the decrease chamber in January.

Long thought of a rising star within the occasion, the 52-year-old Jeffries will make historical past as the primary Black occasion chief in both chamber of Congress. He takes the reins from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has served as House Democratic chief since 2003. Pelosi, 82, introduced earlier this month that she wouldn’t search one other management place however would stay within the House. 

Wednesday’s election means Jeffries will turn into minority chief when the brand new Congress convenes on Jan. 3. Republicans will maintain a slim majority within the House for the primary time since 2019, whereas Democrats retained management of the Senate within the midterm elections. 

Jeffries, whose district encompasses giant elements of his native Brooklyn, was first elected to Congress in 2012 and steadily ascended the occasion ranks, finally changing into chairman of the Democratic caucus in 2019. He served within the New York State Assembly previous to his election, and was a company lawyer earlier than launching his political profession, with stints as in-house counsel at Viacom and CBS.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer known as Jeffries’ election a “turning point in the history of the United States Congress.”

“It’s not surprising that House Democrats are turning to someone from Brooklyn to lead the way next year, because when you’re from Brooklyn, you learn quickly traits like persistence and serious mettle. It’s a crowded place and a diverse place. You learn how to work with all kinds of different people. You learn how to stand your ground. You learn to not take things personally,” stated Schumer, a fellow Brooklynite. “Hakeem Jeffries exemplifies all these traits.”

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, speaks throughout a news convention on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

Eric Lee/Bloomberg by way of Getty Images

Serving alongside Jeffries can be Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, who was chosen as caucus chairman, and Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who was anticipated to be elected Democratic whip. All three ran unopposed. 

Like Pelosi, present Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland declined to hunt one other management publish, whereas Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the present whip, plans to hunt a brand new function as assistant Democratic chief in an election on Thursday. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island stated in a letter to colleagues that he would problem Clyburn for the publish, citing a necessity for LGBTQ illustration in management.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Jeffries stated the brand new management workforce acknowledged the “solemn responsibility that we are all inheriting, and the best thing that we can do as a result of the seriousness and solemnity of the moment, is lean in hard and do the best damn job that we can for the people.”

“We are a coalition of people with different life experiences, ideologies and backgrounds. But at the end of the day, we’re always committed to finding the highest common denominator in order to get big things done. For everyday Americans. I’m confident that we can continue to do it,” he stated.

Jeffries additionally supplied some perception on his relationship with GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Republican nominee for the speakership.

“I think I’ve been pretty gentle on Kevin McCarthy over the years, to tell you the truth. I just respond to things that he has either said or done that I found to be outrageous, such as calling out members on our side of the aisle as extreme when he’s got an extraordinary group of members on the other side of the aisle who fall into that category,” Jeffries stated. “Moving forward, it’s my hope that House Democrats can find common ground with Republicans to get things done that would make life better for everyday Americans whenever possible. But we’re also prepared to oppose their extremism when we must.”

Rebecca Kaplan and Jack Turman contributed reporting.


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