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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

As Speaker Pelosi Nears Her Exit, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Is A Favorite To Lead Caucus

Jeffries would become the first Black person in U.S. history to lead a chamber of Congress.

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House Democratic caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-CA) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 02, 2021, in Washington, DC. House leadership held the press conference to discuss their two-day issues conference.
House Democratic caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-CA) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 02, 2021, in Washington, DC. House leadership held the press conference to discuss their two-day issues conference.
Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

When it comes to the 2022-24 election season, the Democrats face an uphill battle. The incumbent President almost always has a bad outcome historically regarding midterms. There’s an avalanche of anti-voting rights bills and redistricting, which will adversely impact communities of color. Looking at the midterms and beyond, House Democrats are gearing up for a leadership shift that will define their direction for years to come.

Back in 2018, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and 16 Democrats who opposed her as speaker of the house signed an agreement. It was with the understanding that Speaker Pelosi would limit her term to four years as noted by the New York Times. That time is fast approaching. While Pelosi looks to her eventual exit, the Washington Post notes that Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the current chair of the House Democratic Caucus, is a favorite to replace Pelosi.

Now, it’s important to note that if elected to that position, Jefferies would be the first Black person in U.S. history to lead a Chamber of Congress.

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As noted from the Washington Post report, Rep. Jeffries has some fanfare:

The members who were interviewed by The Post overwhelmingly viewed Jeffries as a skilled communicator, and one lawmaker who backs Jeffries’ ascension spoke of his style in glowing terms.

“He’s brilliant, he’s smooth, but he is fearless,” the lawmaker said. “I mean, if we are fighting for something, I want Hakeem Jeffries on my side because he will go to the mat on an issue.”

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There is also a division between the progressive and moderate caucuses of House Democrats. Each side seems to want something different in the style of leadership once Pelosi leaves her post. For example, Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois, a moderate had this to say in what he is looking for:

“I want to make sure that it is someone who can pull the party together,” he told the Post.

“As Pelosi says: ‘Our diversity is our strength, and unity is our power.’ I want to make sure it’s someone who can hold that unity,” he continued.

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This is in slight contrast from Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus:

“I think there was a ‘holding of power’ model that worked very well for a long time, and I think now it is more about a recognition of different centers of focus within the Democratic caucus that have to be brought in and brought together,” she told The Post.

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Rep. Nancy Pelosi was the chamber’s first female speaker. I would feel it would be beneficial to the Democratic outlook as a whole to place somebody of color and fairly young in a leadership position. Jefferies pushed for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, pro-choice, for two years free community college, and was the Democratic sponsor for the bipartisan FIRST STEP Act in 2018. Democrats can only afford to lose three seats in the upcoming midterms and with a wide array of retirement announcements, this could be a chance for not only the House Democrats to attract younger talent, but people that reflect new and diverse ideas.