In a show of unity, House Democrats elect Hakeem Jeffries as minority leader

WASHINGTON — House Democrats on Wednesday elected new leaders to replace the three octogenarians who have led them for two decades, ushering in long-awaited generational change that would be unprecedented on either side of Congress or For the first time in parliamentary history, three top leaders were installed, none of whom were white.

They lost the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, but performed stronger than expected. In a show of unity, Democrats skipped a vote to elect New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as minority leader by acclamation, making him Became the first black man to control the House of Representatives. Top pick Rep. Catherine Clark of Massachusetts was elected lead teller for House Democrats, and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California was elected caucus chair for messaging.

gentlemen. Jeffries, 52, Ms. Clark, 59, and Mr. Aguilar, 43, has for years positioned herself as an unofficial joint slate and waited patiently for their turn after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who led the party for 20 years, announced this month that she would step down. , she was not opposed. Beyond that, paving the way for fresher faces at her party.

Majority Leaders Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland and Democrat Adam B. Schiff of California have been considering challenging Mr. Trump. Jeffries is running for Minority Leader. But sir. Hoyer said he, too, will step back. Many Democrats say Mr. Schiff lacks the votes for the job, he told Mr. Jeffries has instead explored a Senate run, hoping he will do well in the upcoming leadership election, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In the ornate committee hearing room across from the Capitol on Wednesday, the atmosphere was cheerful as Democrats met to elect their new leader.

“We want Pitty pies!” chanted lawmakers as they nominated Mr. Aguilar was using a nickname given to him by his grandmother, according to two people in the room.

At another point, Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama launched a shout-and-answer rallying cry for Mr. Trump. Jeffries borrowed lyrics from rapper Biggie Smalls. Jeffreys famously quoted the quote while speaking on the Senate floor during former President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial.

“If you don’t know,” the lady said. Sewell yelled, “Now you know,” to which the members responded.

Most Democrats say they view the lack of competition as a sign of strength and unity, in contrast to a divided Republican conference where Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is struggling to win the support he needs to become amidst his right-wing insurgency. spokesman. A historically weak midterm performance has given the Republican Party a slim majority in the House of Representatives in the next Congress, making the job of leading it extraordinarily difficult.

“It shows that the Democrats line up and the Republicans are in disarray,” said Rep. Ted Liu, D-Calif., noting that the new list of leaders includes a black man, a white woman and a Latina. American men, “reflecting the diversity of beautiful America.”

Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar said she was pleased to have a leader who “truly represents the diversity of our caucus.”

Some Democrats, however, say the uncontested election has cost them an opportunity to discuss how the party is shifting and how it should move forward.

“This is the most significant generational change we’ve seen among House Democrats in decades,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. “Personally, I think we would benefit from having a debate about what that means.”

The leadership election marks a sea change for the caucus, which has been led by the same three leaders for two decades, effectively freezing dozens of junior lawmakers awaiting promotion.

Mrs. Pelosi announced before Thanksgiving that she would step down as a leader, launching long-awaited changes. gentlemen. Hoyer quickly followed suit, with whip South Carolina Rep. James Claiborne saying he would give up his No. 3 spot and seek lower.

However, his decision to remain in the leadership angered some members.

On Wednesday, Rhode Island gay representative David Cicilline said he planned to challenge Mr. Trump. Clyburn served as vice-captain.

“Among so many at stake, I think it is important for the House Democratic leadership to fully reflect the diversity of our caucus and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member in the leadership bench,” he said in a letter to colleagues. Vital.” Pray. That game will be decided on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the election, Mr. Jeffries described his upcoming role as a “solemn responsibility.”

“When we have the opportunity to hold important positions as leaders of diversity, the most meaningful thing we can do in that area is do the job really well,” Mr. Jeffries said.

He played down differences among Democrats and expressed confidence in his ability and his expected leadership team to keep the party united in the coming year.

“There is nothing more united than being a minority and having the clarity and purpose of being a majority again so we can continue to deliver great things for ordinary Americans,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he knew Trump. Brooklyn neighbor Jeffreys has wanted to talk to him for years, as much as he talks to the women now. Pelosi: About four or five times a day.

“It’s a bit like Pelosi,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview. “When I first met her, I said, ‘This person is special, she’s going somewhere.’ I felt the same way about Hakeem.”

gentlemen. Mr. Schumer said. Jeffries “always had an advantage” in the race to succeed Ms. Pelosi.

“He’s very good at reaching out to people of multiple ideologies,” Mr. Schumer said Mr. Forecast. Jeffries will be able to cross party lines.

“There’s going to be a whole bunch of Republicans who aren’t happy with the direction of the party’s MAGA, and I can’t think of better people to work with them and try to get things done,” Mr. Bush said. Schumer said.

Luke Broadwater and stephanie lai Contribution report.

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