By Karen Stokes
The mood was jubilant on Wednesday when the House Democrats elected a new generation of leaders to take the mantle from the three senior representatives who have led them for two decades. With this new group of leaders, it’s the first time in congressional history that includes no white men.
House Democrats elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Wednesday to be the leader of the House Democrats making him the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress.
Jeffries, who has served as the U.S. representative for New York’s 8th congressional district since 2013 will succeed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has led the Democrats for two decades. Jeffries will carry the title of minority leader when Congress returns in January with Republicans in control of the House.
Democrats skipped a vote and by acclamation elected Jeffries, Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts was elected as whip, the lead vote counter for House Democrats and Representative Pete Aguilar of California as the chairman of the party caucus, in charge of messaging.
Jeffries, 52, Clark, 59, and Aguilar, 43, who for years have positioned themselves as an unofficial joint slate ran unopposed after Speaker Pelosi announced that she would step aside paving the way for new leadership.
“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,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi announced before Thanksgiving that she would step down from leadership. This set the long-awaited change in motion. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 82, also announced they would step aside from their leadership posts shortly after Pelosi’s declaration.
“Leadership is incredibly important,” said Jeffries. “When we get an opportunity as diverse leaders to serve in positions of consequence, the most meaningful thing that we can do in that space is do an incredibly good job.”