Following losses in the midterms, Democrats have elected Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The move, along with the appointments of Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) as the next minority whip and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) as the House Democratic Conference chairman, signals the party’s desire to usher in a new generation of leadership.
The Washington Examiner reported that all three were voted into their positions “by acclamation” and that “all three ran unopposed.”
The Examiner also noted that many view Jeffries as capable of bridging the gap “between generations and between progressives and centrists in the caucus.”
Eighty-two-year-old Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and 83-year-old Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) previously announced their intent to step down from current leadership roles but will remain in Congress through the next session.
African Americans have held notable positions in the Senate and House, but Jeffries, 52, is the first black lawmaker elected to be the leader of a party in Congress.
Jeffries was first elected to Congress in 2012. In 2017 Jeffries became co-chairman of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and in 2019 was elected to serve as House Democratic caucus chairman.
Clark, 59, who won her seat in Congress in a 2013 special election, will assume the #2 position in the caucus. Clark began serving as vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus in 2019 and became the assistant speaker of the House in 2021.
The Examiner reported that Clark has a reputation for building “strong member relationships and being a prolific fundraiser.”
At 43, Aguilar is the youngest of the three new leaders. He will succeed Jeffries as caucus chairman. Aguilar was elected to Congress in 2015. He currently serves as vice chairman of the caucus and has played a key role in the work of the Jan. 6 Committee’s investigation of President Trump and the Jan. 6, 2021, protest and breach of the Capitol.
The current Majority Whip, James E. Clyburn (D-SC), 82, is fighting to become the Assistant Leader — the #4 position in the Democrat side of the House. However, on Wednesday, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) announced that he would challenge Clyburn.
House Republicans coordinated their internal leadership elections before the Thanksgiving recess. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was elected to serve as the new speaker of the House.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was elected to serve as majority leader, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) will serve as whip, Elise Stefanik (R-NY) will remain in her position as Republican Conference chairwoman, and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) will lead the House campaign arm for the GOP.
On Tuesday evening, Jeffries said that he would keep an “open mind” when it comes to forging a working relationship with McCarthy.
“I think I’ve been pretty gentle on Kevin McCarthy,” Jeffries told reporters. “Moving forward, it’s my hope that House Democrats can find common ground with Republicans to get things done that would make life better for everyday Americans whenever possible. We are also prepared to oppose their extremism when we must.”
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