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House Democrats choose Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as leader, the first black person to lead a session of Congress | Main stories

WASHINGTON (NBC) — House Democrats elected their new leadership team Wednesday, ushering in a new generation of leaders after Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer decided to step aside after The Democrats almost lost their majority this month.

Pelosi, 82, from California, the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, will pass the torch to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., 52, who ran unopposed for minority leader and will make history as the first black lawmaker to lead a political party caucus in either chamber.

“This is a moment of transition,” Jeffries told a small group of reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday night. “We stand on the shoulders of giants, but we also look forward to doing whatever is necessary at this time to advance the issues.”

Jeffries’ top deputy will be Katherine Clark, 59, D-Mass., a progressive who served as Democratic caucus vice chair under Jeffries and rose to the position of assistant speaker this Congress. She was elected as the minority whip, the party’s chief vote counter.

Rounding out the trio of new leaders is Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., 43, a Hispanic member of Congress and a former mayor who was elected chairman of the Democratic Caucus, a role Jeffries has held for the past four years.

The elections of Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar represent a changing of the guard for House Democrats who have seen the powerful triumvirate of Pelosi, Hoyer, Md., 83, and Jim Clyburn, M.D., 82, in top leadership positions. over the past two decades.

Of the current “big three” Democrats, only Clyburn, the current majority representative, has decided to remain the leader of the new Congress. He will be running for “assistant leader,” which in the past has been considered the No. 3 position in the minority, but will move to the No. 4 position this Congress.

The Clyburn decision disappointed some young participants, who hoped that the new Congress would start with a clean slate. And on Wednesday, Rep. David Cicilline, MD, 61, announced a surprise bid against Clyburn for assistant superintendent; that the election will take place on Thursday.

In a letter to colleagues announcing his candidacy, Cicillin said, “I think it is very important that the House Democratic leadership team fully reflects the diversity of our group and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table, so I decided run for the position of assistant manager.”

One young Democratic Party member who supports Cicilline expressed disappointment Wednesday with Clyburn’s decision to run again for leader. “I think it’s pretty funny that Nancy had to leave. … She was the most effective leader in history, and I don’t know why he is [Clyburn] I didn’t have to leave with her,” the democrat said.

In recent years, other young, ambitious and talented Democrats looking to climb the leadership ladder have found they have nowhere to go but out.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra was appointed California Attorney General and then President Joe Biden appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services. Two of Pelosi’s loyal lieutenants in leadership, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, successfully ran for Senate seats when their options ran out.

Others, including Steve Israel of New York, who headed the House Democrats’ campaign and communications department, have decided to retire.

Pelosi and Hoyer won’t go far. Instead of resigning, they said they would stay in Congress. And on Tuesday night, the House Committee on Democratic Governance and Politics voted unanimously to grant Pelosi the ceremonial title of Speaker Emeritus. The resolution awarding Pelosi was proposed by Jeffries.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as one of the greatest legislative leaders in American history,” said steering committee co-chairs Eric Swallell, Barbara Lee and Cheri Bustas. “By awarding Speaker Pelosi this honorary title, we are proud to recognize her legendary, marble-ceiling-shattering public service.”

Asked how his leadership style might differ from that of Pelosi — a shrewd lawmaker who sometimes ruled her caucus with an iron grip — Jeffries seemed to follow the team’s view.

“The House Democratic caucus is at its best when everyone has an opportunity to be on the playing field playing the right position,” he said.

Jeffries dodged several questions about what it means to him to be the first black person to lead any party in Congress.

“I haven’t had a chance to think about it,” he said, later adding, “If I was spending time on external narratives or the magnitude of the moment, it would take away from having to make real-time decisions as we prepare to organize a new Congress.” .


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