Hakeem Jeffries elected as House democratic leader

WASHINGTON — Democrats on Wednesday elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to serve as the party’s leader in the House of Representatives, making him the first Black American to lead a major political party in Congress.

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The decision came after current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced earlier this month that she would not seek reelection as leader of Democrats in the House. The first woman to serve as speaker of the House, Pelosi had been the party’s leader in the chamber since 2003.

Jeffries, 52, ran for the position unopposed, according to NPR. He will take on the title of minority leader in January, when Congress reconvenes following the 2022 midterm elections. He currently serves as chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

“It’s a solemn responsibility that we are all inheriting,” Jeffries told reporters Tuesday, according to The Associated Press. “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.”

Also elected to party leadership on Wednesday was 43-year-old Rep. Pete Aguilar, of California, and 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark, of Massachusetts. Republicans did not immediately comment on the elections.

In a statement, Aguilar thanked colleagues for electing him to serve as Democratic Caucus chair and called Jeffries “a principled, steady head at the wheel who always puts people over politics.”

“His historic election is a victory for our Caucus and for the American people,” Aguilar said. “I know we will work tirelessly to keep our diverse Caucus united as we work to deliver for our communities and take back the House in 2024.”

The elections Wednesday represent a generational shift for Democratic leadership, The Washington Post reported. Jeffries had been the youngest Democrat serving in leadership since becoming Democratic caucus chairman in 2019, according to CNN.

Jeffries served as one of seven House impeachment managers selected by Pelosi during the January 2020 impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump. He previously served as whip of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chaired the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Before joining Congress, he spent six years in the New York State Assembly. He began representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens in the House in 2013.

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