Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is predicted to be one of the very first Black lawmaker to head the party in Congress in the 118th Congress is scheduled to meet in Washington.
A New York Democrat will almost likely take over the majority party after the long-running battle for House speaker is over. He is likely to replace Nancy Pelosi, who served as speaker during the previous session of Congress in the time that Democrats were the majority. Not only was he the first Black lawmaker to hold the post, he would also be the first elected to head House Democrats to take office following the end the war in World War II.
It is the conclusion of an era, and the beginning of a fresh one in the eyes of Democrats as Jeffries at the age of 52 is appointed to his new post following Pelosi and the top-ranking Democrats Steny Hoyer, and Jim Clyburn announced they would quit their post as leaders. Clyburn will be the an assistant leader in the next Congress.
House Democrats elected Jeffries to lead their party in an election that was held behind closed doors in November. He ran unopposed. Jeffries is likely to be at the top of the House Democratic majority in the coming years, with Republicans having a small majority of the House.
The 118th Congress began on Tuesday, with the House not able to approve the speaker. Republicans proposed GOP chairman Kevin McCarthy on three different ballots, as well as Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs on the first ballot, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan on the following two ballots however, none of them got the required 218 votes to elect the position of speaker.
Democrats have nominated Jeffries the new leader, who got more votes than the Republican candidates, but not enough to prevail.
The race for speaker was called off Tuesday night, after a long period of voting. The election is expected to resume on Wednesday at noon.
After the speaker is chosen and the lawmakers are sworn in after which a formal announcement of the party’s leadership is made, with Jeffries set to become the minority leader in the coming months because Republicans are expected to hold all of the House majority during the next Congress. But there’s still the chance for Republicans to play the gavel, offering Jeffries the chance, even of course, if not quite zero, of getting the position of speaker.
Jeffries said to reporters on Tuesday that the he was not ready to assist Republicans select the speaker.
“We are looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction,” Jeffries stated.
Jeffries is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and was a political science student in Binghamton, the State University of New York at Binghamton and graduated with the master’s diploma in policy studies from Georgetown University. He was also a student at the law school of New York University School of Law in which he was a member on the Law Review.
He began his political career having been elected into the New York State Assembly in the year 2006. In 2012 the year he was elected to the 8th congressional district. It comprises portions of Brooklyn and Queens.
In his tenure as a member of Congress, Jeffries has pushed for reforms in policing as well as a nationwide prohibition on chokeholds after the murder of Eric Garner, a Black man who passed away in 2014 after being confined in a restraining order. Jeffries was also instrumental in the passing of the First Step Act and co-sponsored the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which was passed by the House but failed to pass in the Senate.
In the year 2019, he was elected Chairman of the Democratic caucus. This made him the youngest legislator who is in the leadership position. Jeffries was also a part of a small group of lawmakers who served as impeachment administrators in the Senate trial of the then-President Donald Trump.
Jeffries the first candidate elected to office, will begin on his sixth term , with plans to reinstate the child tax credit that is now enhanced and bring his party back in the majority by 2024, and call out what he calls Republican extremism , and rebuild access to economic opportunities.
“I just look forward to the opportunity to do the most good for the greatest number of people possible for as long as I have the opportunity to do so and can operate at the highest level,” the president stated to CNN in the last month.
Jeffries rising to become one of the most powerful Black political figures in America is happening with a record-breaking number of Black citizens assume the role in Congress. They will be navigating the Capitol and make decisions for their electorate within a structure that was first laid by slaves.