U.S. House Democrats elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to lead their caucus on Wednesday, making him the first Black leader of a party in Congress.
The 52-year-old Jeffries, who represents the 8th Congressional District in New York, will replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led House Democrats for two decades and served as a congresswoman representing San Francisco for 35 years. She was the first woman to serve as speaker when she initially ascended to the position in 2007. She has said she will continue to serve in the House.
Before today’s vote, Jeffries was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. In 2020, he served as one of the house impeachment managers during the Senate impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump.
The vote to approve Jeffries was by acclamation. He will serve in leadership alongside Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who will be the Democratic Whip, and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, who will serve as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
The path to leadership was cleared for Jeffries when former Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, decided not to run for the top position.
Jeffries told his Democratic colleagues in a letter he would give rank-and-file members greater power and would focus on winning back the House in 2024, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Before running for public office, Jeffries worked as a lawyer, including a stint as an in-house counsel at Viacom and CBS. He served in the New York State Assembly for six years before winning his election to Congress in 2012.
Democrats will be in the minority when Congress reconvenes in January, having narrowly lost the House to Republicans in the midterm elections.