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Congressman from New York became the head of the Democrats in the House of Representatives: this is the first African American in this post

'01.12.2022'

Nadezhda Verbitskaya

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House Democrats on Wednesday, November 30, elected New York Congressman Hakim Jeffreys as their new leader. He became the first black American to lead a major political party in Congress. It comes after current speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she is stepping down to pave the way for a new generation. The Guardian.

Jeffreys, 52, will assume the role of minority leader when the new Congress is sworn in early next year. He inherited the position that Pelosi held for nearly two decades. She is a prominent figure in democratic politics who was the first female speaker.

Demonstrating unity after defeat in the House of Representatives, but with a stronger-than-expected performance in the midterm elections, the Democrats unanimously confirmed Jeffreys and the other two top leadership positions by acclamation.

Leaving the meeting room, the future leader said: “The Democrats of the House of Representatives are fighting for the people. This is our history. This is our heritage. These are our values. This is our obligation.”

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The top three leaders, led by Jeffreys, will include 59-year-old Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark and 43-year-old Pete Aguilar of California as chairman of the caucus. They will take over the mantle from three octogenarians: Pelosi and her longtime deputies Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina.

“Today is a day of transition, hope, and renewal of the shared values ​​of our congregation,” Clarke said.

 

The smooth rise of a new generation of leaders contrasted sharply with the split Republican conference of the House of Representatives. She has yet to unite around Kevin McCarthy after a weaker midterm victory. With only a few votes left, McCarthy is trying to garner enough support to become Speaker.

The Republicans' narrow margin of victory and McCarthy's weak influence on his factions are likely to give the Democrats some leverage in the negotiations. Especially when it comes to the mandatory adoption of legislation. While promising to "get things done," Jeffreys said his faction would seek opportunities to work with the Republicans. But if necessary, "will counteract extremism."

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Pelosi, who has led the Democrats since 2003, announced she intends to pass the baton. And she will support Jeffreys - another leader who breaks barriers.

On November 29, Democrats of the House of Representatives awarded Pelosi the title of "honorary speaker." Clyburn is now the highest-ranking black member of Congress. He intends to remain assistant leader to help with the transition. These elections, as well as voting for other leadership positions, will take place on 1 December.

Jeffries is a former lawyer representing a diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn and Queens. He was once represented by Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to serve in Congress. He is known on Capitol Hill as a disciplined tactician with a measured style and a penchant for pop culture references.

In a speech to reporters on Wednesday, Jeffries traced his ascent from the Brooklyn hospital where he was born. He was born and raised in a family of social workers. He began his political career as a member of the New York State Assembly. Jeffreys promoted the ideas of equality and support for poor Americans. There he sat for six years.

Some progressives are skeptical of Jeffreys as a business-oriented centrist. But no such concerns were voiced on Wednesday. The vote was a positive development marked by “handshakes and hugs,” Aguilar said.

Pramila Jayapal of Washington State, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said, "With this new generation of leaders, House Democrats are well positioned to enter the 118th Congress and face the challenges ahead."

The top three Democrats in the House of Representatives will be made up entirely of women and people of color for the first time.

In a statement, Hoyer called Jeffreys “a skilled consensus builder, an effective legislator and a seasoned leader. And he is ready to deliver results for the people during the 118th Congress and bring back the majority in 2024.”

Although Pelosi will remain in Congress, she has vowed not to be a "mother-in-law in the kitchen." Jeffries, in turn, said that the new leaders considered it an honor to "stand on their shoulders."

“This is a blessing that we accept,” he concluded.

 

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