New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries is reportedly being favored by House Democrats to take over the position of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Pelosi announced that she has decided to step down from her role after nearly 20 years. The speaker confirmed in the House chamber that she will not seek re-election again and is currently looking forward to the next generation succeeding in her role:
“I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect, and I’m grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.”
Following this announcement, several politicians came forward to express their possibility of the next candidate for the role of the speaker, where Hakeem Jeffries proved to be a common choice.
Hakeem Jeffries might become the first African-American man to lead a party in Congress
Shortly after Pelosi's announcement, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn also endorsed younger Democrats from New York, Massachusetts, and California, saying:
“Speaker Pelosi has left an indelible mark on Congress and the country, and I look forward to her continued service and doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic leaders, which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Peter Aguilar.”
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer added that Jeffries “will make history for the institution of the House and for the country,” if he is given a chance to lead the party for the next two years.
Prior to Pelosi’s announcement, Ohio Representative and Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Joyce Beatty also showed her favor towards Jeffries:
“If she [Pelosi] steps aside, I’m very clear that Hakeem Jeffries is the person that I will be voting for and leading the Congressional Black Caucus to vote for."
She further added:
“I don’t always speak for everybody, but I’m very comfortable saying I believe that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus would vote for Hakeem Jeffries.”
North Carolina Representative G.K. Butterfield also told CNN that Jeffries “is prepared for the moment” and expects him to run for Pelosi’s role.
Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan echoed a similar statement and told the publication that Jeffries is "extremely intelligent" and "a good person," who can be an "outstanding leader."
Hakeem Jeffries did not reveal much about his plans to announce his bid for the leadership formally and asked to celebrate Pelosi’s contribution instead:
“Let’s spend the day at this moment continuing to process the historic nature of Speaker Pelosi and the opportunity that we’ve all had to serve with her.”
“It’s been an amazing experience. This is a moment right now to continue to celebrate Speaker Pelosi.”
If Jeffries manages to replace Pelosi, he will create history by becoming the first African-American to lead a party in Congress. As a 52-year-old, he would also represent a generational shift from the current House Democratic leaders who are his seniors by nearly three decades.
Everything to know about Hakeem Jeffries
Hakeem Jeffries is an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party who has served as the U.S. representative for New York's 8th Congressional District since 2013.
He is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, House Budget Committee, and former Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus. Jeffries has served as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus since 2019 and has also co-chaired the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee in the past.
Jeffries was born on August 4, 1970, in Brooklyn at Brooklyn Hospital Center to Laneda and Marland Jeffries. He graduated from Midwood High School in 1988 and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Binghamton University in 1992.
He also received his Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy in 1994 and earned a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law in 1997.
The politician began working as a clerk for Judge Harold Baer Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and then joined the litigation department of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Jeffries eventually became the assistant litigator for Viacom and CBS and also served as director of intergovernmental affairs for the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors. He was also the president of Black Attorneys for Progress.
The politician started serving in the New York State Assembly in 2007 and continued in his role until 2012 before announcing he would run for the U.S. House from New York's 8th congressional district.
Hakeem Jeffries beat Charles Barron in the June 26, 2012, primary election and defeated Beavan and Republican Alan Bellone in the November general election that same year.
He was officially sworn into the 113th Congress on January 3, 2013. During Trump administration, Jeffries played a key role in passing the bipartisan criminal justice overhaul bill, the First Step Act, aimed at reducing the federal prison population.
Reports suggest that Jeffries introduced over 70 bills during his six years in the state legislature. In January 2020, Nancy Pelosi selected Jeffries as one of the seven House Impeachment Managers in the Senate trial of President Donald Trump, the first African-American man to serve in that role.
Jeffries was also instrumental in the Congressional response to COVID-19 and worked hard to support local and state governments that were largely affected by the pandemic. He also advocated for the extension of the emergency unemployment benefit and supported efforts that attempted to keep Americans in their homes.
According to his website, Hakeem Jeffries also secured $21.9 million this year to contribute to projects in Brooklyn like helping funds for overdue improvements to medical centers, providing food for the hungry, supporting organizations working to uplift neighborhoods and deepening cultural understanding through the 2022 Community Project Funding process.