House Democrats have selected New York caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries to succeed Nancy Pelosi as the Democratic leader of the House next year, a historic move that would make him the first person to lead two chambers of Congress. One of the major political parties is black.
House Democrats met behind closed doors on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to make their decision.
Jeffries was unopposed under the Massachusetts Rep. Current Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark is running as Whip and California Representative. Peter Aguilar, the former vice chairman of the caucus, is expected to win the seat to lead the House Democratic caucus.
Republicans have a majority in the next Congress, so Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar will all lead in the Democratic minority for the first time in two terms.
Jeffries, 52, will represent generational change for the current trio of House Democratic leaders who are 30 years his senior. He became chairman of the Democratic caucus in 2019, becoming the youngest member to hold a leadership position.
His leadership boost came after Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Claiborne announced they would step down from their current leadership positions. Claiborne is expected to be the assistant leader of the new Congress.
Pelosi – who was designated “Speaker Emeritus” in a unanimous vote of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Tuesday night – announced in a statement that she would step down and return to her role, wishing the new president who is expected to succeed them. The three leaders are full members of the new Congress.
“A new day is coming — and I am confident that these new leaders will be able to lead our caucus and Congress,” Pelosi said.
Democratic lawmakers have been whispering for months that Pelosi’s possible exit from Congress could pave the way for Jeffries.
Jeffries said he wanted to “lead an effort to align our communications strategy around a messaging that unites values and divides issues.” He also praised past leadership but said “more must be done to confront Inflate, defend our democracy, ensure reproductive liberty, welcome new Americans, promote equal protection of the law, and improve public safety across the nation.”
This story and headline have been updated with more developments Wednesday.