The House Elects a New Generation of Leaders

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries becomes minority leader, but Rep. James Clyburn stays in the game
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2022 10:51 AM CST
The House Elects a New Generation of Leaders
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Nov. 17, 2022.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries made history on Wednesday: With his election as House minority leader, the 52-year-old Democrat became the first Black lawmaker to head a political party in Congress, per the AP. Time points out it's not the only first, flagging the fact that the "top ranks of House leadership for one party won’t include any white men" for the first time. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts will serve as minority whip, and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California will hold the role of caucus chairman (the No. 2 and 3 positions, respectively). What you need to know:

  • The trio take the torch from Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn. All are in their 80s, and all will remain in Congress. Only Clyburn will retain a leadership role.
  • The AP reports Clyburn will on Thursday seek to become "assistant leader," which has traditionally been the No. 3 job in the minority but will be the fourth-highest in this Congress. Per NBC News, "some younger members" were irked by his decision to stay, but no one is challenging Clyburn, who has the support of the Congressional Black Caucus.

  • From the AP: "It's rare that a party that lost the midterm elections would so easily regroup and stands in stark contrast with the upheaval among Republicans, who are struggling to unite around GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as the new House speaker as they prepare to take control when the new Congress convenes in January."
  • As for how Jeffries' leadership style will take shape, NBC News sees a "team-first view" in this statement from him: "The House Democratic Caucus is at its best when everyone has an opportunity to be on the playing field, playing the right position."
  • Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado suggested that's not just talk, telling NPR that Jeffries has a "bottom-up style of leadership ... one of his greatest strengths is recognizing the tremendous talent around him."
  • And while Jeffries is considered a more centrist figure among House Democrats (though he describes himself as a Black progressive), "Squad" member Rep. Rashida Tlaib tells the AP it's been notable that Jeffries and his team have reached out to more liberal members of the party despite facing no challengers. "There's a genuine sense that he wants to develop relationships and working partnerships with many of us," she said.
(More Hakeem Jeffries stories.)

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