Democrats in the House of Representatives, one of the two branches of the United States Congress, have selected New York’s Hakeem Jeffries to lead their caucus. His historic appointment, follows an unanimous vote on Wednesday. Never before has a Black man been named a party leader in the US Congress.
Jeffries is set to lead a Democratic party that will lose its majority in the House of Representatives for the first time since 2018. In a speech following the vote on Wednesday, Jeffries said the party would reach across the aisle to work with Republicans. But he added that Democrats would “push back against extremism whenever necessary”.
Who is Jeffries?
Jeffries will be replacing California Representative and current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as head of the Democratic caucus. As the first woman in US history to hold the role, Pelosi – who represents California’s 12th district in the San Francisco Bay Area – has served as leader of the House Democrats for nearly 20 years. During her tenure, she has become one of the country’s most powerful female political figures, building a reputation as balls to knuckles opposing voice to former President Trump.
Her departure ushers in a younger generation of Democratic leadership, including the 52-year-old Jeffries. He is joined by 59-year-old Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark and 43-year-old California Representative Pete Aguilar as whip and chairman of the caucus, respectively.
Hakeem Jeffries represents the diverse Eighth Congressional District of New York, an area that encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his fifth term in the United States Congress, Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital, raised in Crown Heights and is a product New York City’s public school system.
He thanked Pelosi in his speech on Wednesday, calling her an “extraordinary Speaker for the ages who has delivered so much for so many over such a significant period of time”.
“Our caucus is better. Our country is better. The world is better because of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s incredible leadership.”Hakeem Jeffries