washington – House Democrats in a unanimous vote on Wednesday elected Rep. Hakeem Jefferies of New York as their next party leader, beginning a generational change as Democrats prepare to relinquish control of the lower chamber in January.
Long considered a rising star in the party, Jefferies, 52, will make history as the first black party leader in either chamber of Congress. He took over the reins from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has served as House Democratic leader since 2003. Pelosi, 82,said earlier this month that she would not seek another leadership position but would remain in the House.
Wednesday’s election means Jeffries will become minority leader when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 3. Republicans will hold a narrow majority in the House for the first time since 2019, while Democrats retain control of the Senate in the midterm elections.
Jefferies, whose district includes large parts of his native Brooklyn, was first elected to Congress in 2012 and steadily climbed the party ranks, eventually becoming Democratic caucus chair in 2019. He served in the New York State Assembly prior to his election, and was a corporate lawyer before beginning his political career as in-house counsel at Viacom and CBS.
Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Jefferies’ 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 next year, because when you’re from Brooklyn, you learn traits like assertiveness and serious mettle. It’s a crowded place.” It’s a more diverse place. You learn how to work with all kinds of different people. You learn how to stand your ground. You learn not to take things personally,” said Brooklyn’s said a fellow Schumer. “Hakeem Jefferies exemplifies all of these symptoms.”
Jeffries will be accompanied by Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who was elected Democratic whip, and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, who was elected as caucus chair. All three ran unopposed.
Like Pelosi, Maryland’s current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer declined to seek another leadership position, while South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, the current whip, will seek a new role as assistant Democratic leader in an election Thursday. Planning to search. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a letter to colleagues that he would challenge Clyburn for the position, citing the need for LGBTQ representation in leadership.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Jeffries said the new leadership team “recognises the grave responsibility that we all inherit, and the best thing we can do as a result of the severity and severity of this time is to To work hard and do it.” Best thing we can do for the people.”
“We are a coalition of people with different life experiences, ideologies and backgrounds. But at the end of the day, we are committed to always finding the highest common denominator to do great things. For everyday Americans. I am convinced that We can keep doing it,” he said.
Jefferies offered some insight on his relationship with GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who is the Republican nominee for the speakership.
“I think I’ve been pretty polite to Kevin McCarthy over the years, to tell you the truth. I only respond to things he’s either said or done that I find offensive, like our side Calling members across the aisle is just as extreme when he’s got an extraordinary group of members on the other side of the aisle who fall into that category,” Jeffries said. “Going forward, it is my hope that House Democrats can find common ground with Republicans to make life better for everyday Americans whenever possible. But we also stand ready to oppose their extremism, when we need.”
Rebecca Kaplan and Jack Turman contributed reporting.