Hakeem Jeffries Makes History as First Black Party Leader in Congress

Hakeem Jeffries Makes History as First Black Party Leader in Congress

House Democrats unanimously elected Hakeem Jeffries to be minority leader next year, marking the party’s first change in top leadership in two decades.

He is the first Black lawmaker to be elected to a top congressional leadership post.

The victory for the New York Democrat is more coronation than competition. The current chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Jeffries has long been seen as the heir apparent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Although Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) initially considered a run for the top spot, he ultimately decided against it.

Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) gave one of several speeches nominating Jeffries for leader, according to a Democratic aide.

“He’s served on the front-lines in the effort to protect our democracy, being a leader in the effort to impeach Donald Trump,” Kilmer said. “He has gone toe to toe with Republicans and with an occasionally even more formidable adversary – the US Senate.”

In addition to Jeffries, who represents part of Brooklyn, House Democrats united behind Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) to be chair of the House Democratic caucus and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) to be minority whip.

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