As Democrats in the House of Representatives head into the minority in the next Congress, for the first time in almost two decades they won’t be led by Nancy Pelosi.
The current speaker and longtime lawmaker from California announced earlier this month she’d be stepping down as leader of the House Democrats but remaining in Congress.
At a meeting of Democrats on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, party members officially voted to elect as her replacement Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who had been running unopposed.
That makes the New York lawmaker, who has been in the House since 2013 and has served as caucus chair since 2019, the first Black person to lead a party in Congress.
“Building upon my leadership experience and our shared journey, I look forward to creating a better future together for all Americans and humbly ask for your support,” Jeffries had written in a Nov. 18 letter to colleagues in which he declared his candidacy for the position.
The new leader of the Democrats said in that letter that his “three operating principles” would be empowering all members to do more, prioritizing their security after the attack on the Capitol, and reclaiming the majority in the 2024 elections.
Jeffries is 52 — three decades younger than Pelosi — and his expected election had been touted as a generational change for the Democrats.
“Together, this new generation of leaders reflects the vibrancy and diversity of our great nation – and they will reinvigorate our Caucus with their new energy, ideas and perspective,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday.
In a statement, Republican National Committee spokesperson Tommy Pigott slammed Jeffries as a “far-left” Democrat who “wants to abdicate any oversight responsibility of the Biden administration.”
But Democrats used social media to praise their new leader.