New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries is the new House Democratic leader, succeeding Nancy Pelosi

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  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Tuesday succeeded Speaker Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader.

  • Jeffries has become the first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in Congress.

  • Jeffries, a Brooklyn native, served in the New York State Assembly before joining Congress in 2013.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the 52-year-old New York lawmaker and former House Democratic Caucus Chair, has succeeded former Speaker Nancy Pelosi as leader of the House Democratic caucus in the 118th Congress.

After being elected by his fellow Democrats, Jeffries has become the first Black lawmaker to lead a major political party in Congress.

When Jeffries officially announced his intention to helm the caucus after the November 2022 midterm elections, he spoke highly of Pelosi's 20-year tenure leading House Democrats. (Pelosi will continue to serve in the House representing her San Francisco-based district.) He also promoted a theme of unity, calling his Democratic colleagues "the most authentic representation of the gorgeous mosaic of the American people."

With veteran Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina having previously stepped aside from their House leadership roles, Jeffries is now one of the most prominent figures in the Democratic Party.

Hakeem Jeffries was born and raised in Brooklyn.

Hakeem Jeffries
Hakeem Jeffries.Facebook

Jeffries was born in Brooklyn and grew up in the Crown Heights neighborhood of the borough.

He earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton, as well as a master's degree in public policy from Georgetown University.

He then earned a law degree from the New York University School of Law, where he served on the Law Review.

He served in the New York State Assembly from 2007 to 2012.

Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York questions US Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 28, 2020.Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Jeffries was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, serving in office from 2007 to 2012.

While in office, he authored a bill, which was signed into law, doing away with the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk database. It contained the names of individuals — most of them Black and Hispanic — who had been stopped by police.

In 2013, a federal judge ruled that New York's stop-and-frisk program was unconstitutional.

His tenure in the House of Representatives began in 2013.

Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, right, alongside then-House Speaker John Boehner, left, and Jeffries' mother, Laneda, in January 2013.AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

Jeffries was first elected to a Brooklyn-based US House district in 2012 following the retirement of longtime Democratic congressman Ed Towns.

He was sworn into office in January 2013.

The lawmaker once took to the House floor to pay tribute to the Notorious B.I.G.

Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.Alex Wong/Getty Images

In 2017, Jeffries paid tribute to Christopher Wallace — the Brooklyn-born rapper best known as the Notorious B.I.G. — on the House floor.

The congressman began by rapping the lyrics to the classic 1994 song "Juicy":

"It was all a dream / I used to read Word Up magazine/ Salt-N-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine / Hangin' pictures on my wall / Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl."

As a public official, Jeffries has long showcased his Brooklyn pride.

He has chaired the House Democratic Caucus since 2019.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, left, and Rep. Pete Aguilar of California.AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib

Jeffries was selected by his fellow House Democrats to serve as caucus chair, assuming the position in January 2019.

His election to the role fueled heavy speculation that he was the favorite to succeed then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California upon her eventual departure as the leader of the party's caucus in the lower chamber.

Jeffries prepares to assume the mantle of House Democratic leader.

Hakeem Jeffries.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

With Pelosi — the first female House speaker in US history — announcing on Nov. 17, 2022 that she would soon relinquish her position as House Democratic leader after nearly 20 years, Jeffries became the overwhelming favorite to succeed the California lawmaker.

On Nov. 18, Jeffries announced that he was running for the position and asked his colleagues for their support in his bid.

The party held a leadership vote for the 118th Congress on Nov. 30, where Jeffries was selected by acclamation.

Reps. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California were also chosen by fellow members to become minority whip and caucus chair, respectively, in rounding out a new generation of Democratic leaders in the House.

Jeffries becomes House Democratic leader.

Hakeem Jeffries
House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., left, sits with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., during the vote to determine the speaker in the House on the opening day of the 118th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 3, 2023.AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jeffries officially became House Democratic leader at the start of the 118th Congress, and was also nominated by his fellow Democrats to serve as speaker.

Republicans regained a majority after the midterms, with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy poised to become speaker. However, at the start of the 118th Congress, the party — with a razor-thin 222-212 edge — struggled to unify around McCarthy's speakership bid.

In officially nominating Jeffries as speaker, Aguilar pointed to the unity of the Democratic caucus, stating that the New Yorker "does not traffic in extremism."

"He does not grovel to or make excuses for a twice-impeached former president," Aguilar said of Jeffries in a swipe at former President Donald Trump. "He does not a bend a knee to anyone who would seek to undermine our democracy."

In the first ballot, Jeffries received 212 votes to McCarthy's 203 votes; GOP Rep. Andy Biggs earned ten votes and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan — who backed McCarthy — got six votes.

(McCarthy fell well short of the 218 votes needed to become speaker.)

In the second ballot, Jeffries earned 212 votes to McCarthy's 203 votes. And Jordan — who backed McCarthy — earned 19 votes.

A third ballot is on track to produce a similar outcome, with a swath of conservatives still at odds with McCarthy.

Read the original article on Business Insider