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Hakeem Jeffries elected House Democratic leader in milestone for Black Americans

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Congressman Hakeem Jeffries's election as Democratic leader in the House represents a generational shift for the party./AFP
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Dec 01, 2022 - 01:48 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – Democrats in the House of Representatives unanimously chose congressman Hakeem Jeffries to be their next party leader on Wednesday, making him the first Black lawmaker to lead either major party in Congress.

Jeffries, 52, is now slated to succeed outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced two weeks ago that she would be stepping down from Democratic leadership prior to the next Congress convening in January.

Pelosi remains the first woman to hold the Speaker mantle and her decision to step down from Democratic leadership is a watershed moment for the party as it ushers in a new era. Jeffries’ candidacy was approved by acclimation during a closed-door session on Capitol Hill.

Speaking shortly after the proceedings concluded, Jeffries hailed Pelosi’s “incredible leadership,” saying Democrats “stand on” her and her leadership team’s “collective broad shoulders, building upon the incredible work that they’ve done, excited about the opportunities to advance the ball for everyday Americans as we move forward into our future.”

Jeffries pledged to work with Republicans in the next Congress, saying Democrats “look forward to finding opportunities to partner with the other side of the aisle, and work with them wherever possible.” But he maintained the party would “push back against extremism whenever necessary.”

“We seek to find common ground whenever and wherever possible,” said Jeffries. “We hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as they temporarily inherit the majority In the next Congress, are willing to proceed with that same spirit of cooperation, fortitude, and mission-centered focus to get things done for everyday Americans.”

He will now lead House Democrats as their minority leader after the party lost control of the chamber as a result of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Jeffries will be joined by his number two, Minority Whip Katherine Clark, and Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar.

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