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Brooklyn’s Hakeem Jeffries poised to be next top Democrat in the House following Pelosi’s departure as leader

Hakeem Jeffries Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden
Brooklyn Congress Member Hakeem Jeffries (r.), pictured with President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a March 2022 event in Philadelphia, is poised to become the next leader of the House Democrats after Pelosi announced on Nov. 17, 2022 she would step aside from her leadership role.
Official White House Photo

Brooklyn’s in the House.

The borough’s own Congress Member Hakeem Jeffries, currently the fifth-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, looks poised to become the next Democratic House Minority Leader after outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed she’d be stepping down from the post Thursday, multiple news outlets are reporting.

Pelosi’s announcement that she won’t be seeking reelection as the House’s top Democrat followed the party losing its majority in Washington’s lower chamber to the Republicans Wednesday night.

“I will not seek re-election to Democratic leadership in the next Congress,” Pelosi said during a speech on the House floor Thursday afternoon.

Shortly after Pelosi’s speech on the House floor, Jeffries – chair of the House Democratic Caucus – released a lengthy statement where he praised Pelosi for her years of service during trying times for the country, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Donald Trump’s four years as president, and dubbed her “the most accomplished Speaker in American history.”

“Speaker Pelosi often reminds House Democrats of Thomas Paine’s words that ‘the times have found us,’” Jeffries said. “From the horrific attacks on 9/11 during her service on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to the financial crisis, a lawless former president and a once-in-a-century pandemic, the times have found in Speaker Pelosi a legendary legislator, notorious negotiator and a fabulous facilitator for the ages. She has been the steady hand on the gavel during some of the most turbulent times the nation has ever confronted.”

In his statement, Jeffries – who would be the first African American leader of the Democratic caucus – sounded like he expects to follow in Pelosi’s footsteps.

“The Speaker often reminds us that our diversity is our strength,” he said. “I know we will draw on that wisdom often as we come together as a caucus to begin a new chapter, reflecting the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the people we represent. May we undertake that journey with the solemnity, prayerfulness and tenacity that Speaker Pelosi has brought to each and every day of her tenure.”

The path for Jeffries’ ascension to be the House Democrats’ next leader seemed to become more clear Thursday afternoon following Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland saying he wouldn’t run for the post and throwing his support behind Jeffries, according to a published report; and reporting that Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina is expected to run for the fourth highest ranking position in the Democratic conference instead and also back Jeffries. 

Bronx Congress Member Ritchie Torres also announced he’s backing Jeffries’ bid in a video posted on Twitter.

Christiana Stephenson, a spokesperson for Jeffries, said elections for House Democratic Caucus leadership would be held in two weeks, as has been previously reported, when amNewYork Metro reached out asking if a vote would be held Thursday.

“It has been previously announced that House Democratic Caucus leadership elections will take place on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1,” Stephenson said.

Pelosi was the first woman to be Speaker of the House and led the Democratic conference in the chamber for the last two decades. She served two terms as speaker, first from 2007 to 2011, and again from 2019 to the present.

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