Rep. Jeffries is expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as the top elected Democrat. : NPR

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., ran for Democratic leader in the House without a candidate. He replaces Representative Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who vowed not to run for top leadership after Democrats lost control of the House in the midterm elections.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., ran for Democratic leader in the House without a candidate. He replaces Representative Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who vowed not to run for top leadership after Democrats lost control of the House in the midterm elections.

Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

House Democrats are turning to a new generation of leaders to take the lead in the next Congress and are poised to make history when they elect a new vehicle on Wednesday.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., 52, will run without a candidate for House Minority Leader starting January. He’s 30 years younger than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and will become the first Black person to lead a major political party in Congress. Pelosi announced earlier this month that she would stay in Congress, but Do not run for leadership positionsShe has headed the Democratic caucus for nearly two decades after Republicans won a razor-thin majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

Speaking to reporters on the eve of the caucus, Jeffries said he didn’t have time to reflect on the historical imprint. Focusing on “outside stories or the importance of the moment,” he said, will detract from his planning work on how to move the caucus from the majority to the new minority posture next month. January, he said.

He is expected to be elected minority leader with Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., as second, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif as third. The new leadership team should “try their best and do the best job possible for the people,” he said.

Jeffries added that it is important for Congress to “look like the American people.” He added, “when we have the opportunity as diverse leaders to serve in important positions, the most meaningful thing we can do in space is do a job.” extremely good — that will hopefully encourage others to think about public service and alleviate concerns that skeptics might be able to function successfully at the highest levels of all Americans. “

Representative Jim Clyburn, DS.C., 82 years old and the current third-ranked Democrat leader said the change comes with Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and himself not running for office. The most senior service has been done in several years.

“I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that Pelosi, Hoyer, and myself are going to be leaving soon at the helm, either under our own authority, or someone took us out,” Clyburn said.

Clyburn calls the low-dramatic leadership change that House Democrats are expected to make relatively quickly after a group has been in power for about 15 years an “evolution”. Often, coveted leadership positions are rarely made public and contested races can be personal with factions working hard for votes in a race decided by secret ballot. .

“I have studied history long enough to know that progress is much better than revolution,” Clyburn said. “And I think anyone who’s watched their caucus, our caucus over the years, can see leadership growing.”

Jeffries said that after the Democrats regained their majority in 2018, he, Clark and Aguilar talked about joining the leadership table afterwards and used the period to demonstrate that they were up to the task. move up the ladder of leadership.

A new generation promises bottom-up leadership

Representative Jason Crow, D-Colo., told NPR “one thing I’ve learned in leadership is that you don’t get to choose your timing. The timing comes on its own and it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do. how and when”. will take the lead.” Crow said Jeffries has a “bottom-up leadership style,” adding, “one of his greatest strengths is recognizing the tremendous talent around him.”

Pelosi holds a very narrow majority in this session of Congress, and divisions between progressives and centrists often lead to overt and stalled action on top priorities. Those on the left generally want bolder policy proposals and more generous federal spending, while moderates argue for positions they hold that are more relevant to voters in the country. purple districts they represent and helped the party regain its majority in 2018.

Jeffries told reporters there is “nothing more unified than having a majority” and said he and his colleagues are focused exclusively on getting the hammer back by 2024.

He acknowledged the caucus is “a big family, a passionate family and sometimes a noisy family.” Alluding to the House GOP conference and its allegiance to former President Donald Trump, Jeffries added “I’d rather be an alliance than a sect.”

Representative Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., who was elected in 2016, told NPR she’s excited about the big change in who will lead her party in the House. She points out that she and Jeffries come from similar backgrounds, with working-class parents. “He understands how it feels as a person of color, the discrimination we all face – because he likes to say it’s about standing up for those who are left behind and those who don’t. there’s that voice on the dinner table.” She said his style is to listen to different factions in caucus and said he has traveled around the country visiting legislators in their districts.

Jeffries served as impeachment manager and legislator

Pelosi has recommended Jeffries to serve as impeachment manager for the Senate trial in January 2020 – a position well known for those who will prosecute their cases on national television. Crow was in the group and recounted the tense moment during the Senate trial when a protester burst into the room during Jeffries’ presentation and it was unclear whether he had a weapon or would threaten lawmakers inside. or not. As the Metropolitan Police work to remove the Crow looking at Jeffries, who “stops, he calms down, he quotes a scripture about how God will protect His flock and stand with you. And then he continued right where he left off and finished his case. It was just an illustration of how he handled things and stayed calm under pressure.”

Jeffries also showed off his Brooklyn roots during the trial in response to Trump’s attorney, who asked the House impeachment managers why they were even there to advance their case. He quoted Biggie Smalls, the rapper from his neighborhood known as the “infamous BIG” as he concluded his closing statement about the president’s abuse of power that, “and if you don’t know, then now you know.”

Crow said that episode showed Jeffries Hakeem “knows where he’s going, but he also knows where he’s coming from. And I think it’s important as a person and important as a leader to never be. now forget my background, never forget who I am.”

When working with GOP House leaders, Jeffries will keep an “open mind”

Jeffries said he is “open-minded” about his relationship with the top Republican Representative, Representative Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., speaker nominee. McCarthy is still struggling to get the votes he needs to be elected by the full House in January after easily beating his own challenge in the GOP convention. Jeffries said he has more experience with the incoming Majority Leader, Representative Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and said he would look for common ground. But he stressed that McCarthy has a lot of members he considers “extremist” and that he’s willing to oppose and OP’s efforts to promote far-right policies.


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