On Wednesday, November 20th, Democrats in the House of Representatives elected New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries as the Minority Leader of the House following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement to step aside after Democrats lost control of the house after the 2022 midterm elections.
Jeffries, 52, makes history by being the first Black politician to hold the position of leader of a political party in Congress. He is also the first democratic house leader to be born after the end of World War II. Pelosi, along with Maryland Representative and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and South Carolina Representative and majority whip Jim Clyburn previously held the top three party positions in the Democratic Caucus for 20 years.
Along with Jeffries, Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark, 59, and California Representative Pete Aguilar, 43, were elected on Wednesday as minority whip and Democratic Caucus chairman, respectively.
12 days after declaring his run to become House Democratic Leader, Jeffries secured every vote unopposed. Following the announcement of his win in becoming the highest-ranking Black congressional leader in either chamber, Jeffries said, “Today, with immense pride, I stood in front of the House Democratic Caucus as a candidate for Democratic Leader, and I am eternally grateful for the trust my colleagues placed in me with their votes.”
After forging relationships with congress members over the past two years, Jeffries managed to quietly climb the ladder, with much support from members. When discussing Jeffries’ ambitions and previously seen leadership in the house, Pennsylvania Representative Brendan Boyle said, “People know he’s someone who’s able to bridge whatever ideological gaps there are within the Democratic caucus and work with people in a very respectful, genuine way.” Boyle also mentioned the camaraderie between Clark, Aguilar, and Jeffries tackling issues as a unit and working closely for years. He said, “It is Democrats in total array, total unity,” Boyle said. “It makes life so much easier for those of us in the caucus.”
Pelosi released a statement on Wednesday following the results of the election. She said, “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.” She also promised an orderly and timely transition.
Jeffries, who grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and was raised by working-class parents, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Binghamton University, then his Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University, followed by a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law.