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Congress Returns to Washington, DC after the Midterm Elections

Source: Kent Nishimura / Getty

As Nancy Pelosi steps down from Democratic leadership in Congress, all eyes are now on Hakeem Jeffries, who reportedly has been dubbed her successor for the role.

On Thursday (Nov. 17), the current House of Representatives Majority leader made an address to her fellow representatives that she would be stepping down from leadership when the next Congress convenes in January. While Pelosi didn’t publicly say whom she would pick to replace her, many have pointed to Hakeem Jeffries as the primary candidate – making him the first Black person to hold that type of leadership role in either chamber of Congress. “That’s up to them, I want it to be whatever they want it to be,” she said in an interview after her speech.

Jeffries was quickly endorsed to take over the mantle of Democratic leadership by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who also made the decision to step down from their posts yesterday as well. “Speaker Pelosi has left an indelible mark on Congress and the country, and I look forward to her continued service and doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic leaders, which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Peter Aguilar,” Clyburn said in a statement.

Jeffries is expected to gain support for ascending to the leadership position along with Representatives Aguilar of California, who serves on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Clark of Massachusetts, known for her progressive stance and helping to mend tense divides in the party on legislative agendas. Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio publicly supported the choice. “He has galvanized us, he’s worked alongside with Speaker Pelosi, he’s been mentored by Jim Clyburn, and I think he’s ready,” she said.

The 52-year-old congressman from Brooklyn, New York has established himself as a firm and steady hand among the Democrats in the House, becoming the youngest to become chairman of its caucus in 2019. Jeffries has also become noteworthy for his disciplined yet fiery spirit displayed as he served as an impeachment manager who helped make the case to convict former President Donald Trump on charges of obstructing Congress.

Elections for the Democratic leadership roles are set for Nov. 30. When asked about his thoughts on becoming named by reporters, Jeffries demurred. “We’ll see what happens as we move forward,” he said, adding that it was the day to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “a leader for the ages.”