House Democrats commenced a new era of leadership on Wednesday, electing Hakeem Jeffries to replace Nancy Pelosi as leader of the congressional caucus.
In a unanimous vote, House Democrats—who will be the minority in that chamber come January—approved 52-year-old Jeffries, who represents parts of New York in the House—to lead the party. Jeffries becomes the first Black American to head a major political party in Congress.
Jeffries heads a new, younger generation of leadership among House Democrats.
House Democrats also voted in 59-year-old Katherine Clark of Massachusetts as Democratic whip and 43-year-old Pete Aguilar of California as caucus chairman.
In a floor speech, Pelosi—who is wrapping up her fourth and final term as House Speaker—announced she wouldn’t seek the leadership position after Democrats narrowly lost the House.
Pelosi, who was just reelected to her 19th term representing San Francisco, said she has no plans to retire but heralded “a new day” for House Democrats and later endorsed Jeffries’ bid for the leadership role.
In a statement, Pelosi congratulated the new leadership trio and said the “new generation of leaders reflects the vibrancy and diversity of our great nation—and they will reinvigorate our Caucus with their new energy, ideas and perspective.
“I am grateful to have served in the leadership of the magnificent House Democrats. I look forward to an orderly transition as we prepare for the 118th Congress,” Pelosi said.
On Tuesday, a House committee anointed Pelosi with the honorific “Speaker Emerita,” with Jeffries calling her “most consequential speaker in American history.”
The title “reflects Speaker Pelosi’s lifetime of service as a legendary legislator, notorious negotiator and a fabulous facilitator,” Jeffries said in a statement.
Annie Gaus can be reached at [email protected]