Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (8th Congressional District) was unanimously elected House Democratic Leader on November 30th.
He’ll replace Nancy Pelosi, 82, who stepped down after two decades of service and pledged her support for Jeffries. Pelosi was the first female House Speaker. Jeffries’ recent election is also historic as he is the first black American to hold the highest-ranking position in the House of Representatives. In fact, no person of color has ever held the top position in the Senate either.
Jeffries, 52, said that it was a great honor to serve in Congress for the past five terms. The local congressman, whose district covers Canarsie, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach and East New York, grew up in Crown Heights and will assume his role as Minority Leader on January 3rd, when the 118th Congress is sworn in.
He released the following statement: “Over the last few years, House Democrats have delivered extraordinary results for the American People. We are going to continue to put People Over Politics and fight for all our values. House Democrats will lift up working families, the middle class and those who aspire to be part of it, young people and senior citizens, veterans, the poor, the sick and the afflicted and the least, the lost and the left behind.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wasn’t surprised that Jeffries was elected. Both grew up in Brooklyn, attended NYC public schools and served in the Assembly (Jeffries served for six years) before joining Congress.
Schumer said, “When you’re from Brooklyn, you learn quickly traits like persistence and serious mettle. It’s a crowded place and a diverse place. You learn how to work with all kinds of different people. You learn how to stand your ground. You learn to not take things personally.”
“Hakeem Jeffries exemplifies all these traits. He is someone who I know will both hold the line on our Democratic values, while being ready to listen and keep an open mind. I know he can work with the other side whenever it’s necessary.”
On working with the opposing party, Jeffries said, “We will look for common ground with Republicans whenever and wherever possible, but oppose extremism on the other side of the aisle whenever necessary.”
Jeffries made a formal announcement of his candidacy on November 18th.
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermeleyn congratulated Jeffries on behalf of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
“Jeffries’ rapid rise from humble roots to the first black figure to lead a party in Congress is a testament to his staunch dedication to uplifting all Americans. We have leadership that truly reflects and understands the needs of our diverse mosaics across America. The Brooklyn Democratic Party is eager to continue advancing our borough by working with close leaders in the House and Senate.”
Jeffries stated, “Democrats, at our best, fight For The People. That’s not a slogan, that’s a way of life, and we are just getting started. Onward.”