Also chosen as part of Jeffries’ team is Katherine Clark, 59, of Massachusetts, who won the No. 2 Democratic job, a position known as a whip. Californian Pete Aguilar, 43, and a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was elected to Jeffries’ current position as chairman of the Democratic caucus.
Their elections mean that for the first time in either party, the top three party roles will be held by women or people of color.
“Together, this new generation of leaders reflects the vibrancy and diversity of our great nation — and they will revitalize our caucus with their new energy, ideas and perspective,” Pelosi said in a statement congratulating the trio.
The leadership change for the Democrats comes as the Republicans take over the majority — by a narrow margin — in the House of Representatives following the November 8 midterm elections.
Republicans and their leader Kevin McCarthy, who is seeking to be the next speaker, have informed Democrats that they will jump-start investigations into state officials and President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
While making tackling inflation the centerpiece of their 2022 congressional campaigns, Republicans have said little on the subject since then.
The three House Democratic leadership positions have been held for two decades by Pelosi, 82, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, and Majority Whip James Clyburn, 82.
They have been under pressure for years to make way for a younger generation. The moment for that came after the Republicans won the majority, but without the “red wave” of victories they had expected – a turn of events that the Democrats supported.
Their agreements to step down meant a smooth transfer of power. Outside the private meeting, reporters could hear loud celebrations.
“Hakeem Jeffries spent a quarter of his time praising the GOAT [greatest of all time]Nancy Pelosi,” Representative Emanuel Cleaver told reporters afterwards, referring to Jeffries’ speech to his colleagues.
Cleaver, an ordained minister, said members of the caucus were “on their feet, like in church” to celebrate the election of Jeffries, “whom I call the hip-hop juggernaut.”
Jeffries is known as a fan of the music genre and hosts an annual ‘Hip Hop on the Hill’ event to raise funds.