Hakeem Jeffries Also Made History on Tuesday

He's the first Black congressional leader of either party
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2023 1:20 AM CST
Hakeem Jeffries Also Made History on Tuesday
Incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on opening day of the 118th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Everyone's talking about how Kevin McCarthy's three failed bids for House Speaker made history Tuesday, but making slightly fewer headlines is the fact that Hakeem Jeffries, who was successfully elected House minority leader by the Democrats, also made history. Jeffries is the first Black politician to be elected the leader of either party in Congress, the New York Times reports. The 52-year-old also marks a "generational change" for Democrats following Nancy Pelosi's two decades in the top spot. Democrats pointed out that with 212 votes, Jeffries had significantly more votes than McCarthy, and hailed Black leaders such as Rep. John Lewis and others who paved the way for him to break this barrier, USA Today reports.

Jeffries "does not traffic in extremism. He does not grovel to or make excuses for a twice-impeached, so-called former president,” Rep. Pete Aguilar said in his nominating speech. “He does not bend a knee to anyone who would seek to undermine our democracy because, Madam Clerk, that’s not what leaders do.” Jeffries started out as a litigator and began representing Black neighborhoods in Brooklyn in 2013. He has crossed the aisle to get criminal justice reform legislation passed, and was one of the prosecutors when former President Trump was impeached. (More Hakeem Jeffries stories.)

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