Nancy Pelosi, the longtime California representative who has served as Speaker of the House since 2019, stepped down on Thursday, clearing the way for a new figure to take the mantle. Pelosi has led the Democratic Party for 20 years but said in her parting remarks she believes “the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus.”
Just after the Pelosi news hit the presses, rumors began to swirl about a possible replacement. Names of other prominent members of the House of Representatives were thrown out, perhaps most vocally: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a lawmaker from New York who has served in the chamber since 2013.
Were Jeffries to inherit the seat of Democratic Leadership, he would make history, becoming the first every person of color to do so. Here’s what else you need to know about the US Representative from NY’s 8th District.
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Who is Hakeem Jeffries?
Hakeem Jeffries is a US Representatives serving the 8th of District New York. He is rumored to be the preferred successor to Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.
Jeffries, who was elected in 2013, has already been endorsed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, both of whom have also announced plans to resign.
In their relinquishing of power, Hoyer, Clyburn, and Pelosi have cleared a path for a new guard to head up the party for the second half of the Biden presidency.
Jeffries was recently re-elected as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the party’s No. 5 leadership position, and has been described by colleagues as competent, experienced, and respected.
A brief Hakeem Jeffries bio
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is a Brooklyn native. Raised in Crown Heights by his parents, one a social worker, and one a caseworker, Jeffries now lives in Prospect Heights with his wife Kennisandra Arciniegas Jeffries, herself a social worker, and their two sons.
Jeffries attended Binghamton University for undergrad, before pursuing a masters in public policy Georgetown University and then a law degree from New York University.
He worked for years as a corporate lawyer serving clients like Viacom Inc. and CBS, and then entering politics at the local level. He was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, then ran for national office in 2012, unseating a 30-year incumbent to win his seat representing the 8th District.
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What are Hakeem Jeffries positions?
Hakeem Jeffries has been a vocal supporter of everyday costs for Americans. He was integral in helping the Democratic party to craft a campaign message around ‘dollar and cents’ issues ahead of the 2022 midterms.
His campaign websites lists lowering childcare and health care costs, as well as the cost of education and prescription drugs as top priorities.
Jeffries is also a champion of criminal justice reform, having worked on legislation aimed at correcting sentencing disparities for crack versus powder cocaine and introducing the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention in 2015, then later again in 2021 as part of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Jeffries is also a proponent of gun control measures and of women’s reproductive rights, condemning along with many other congressional Democrats the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this year.
Is Hakeem Jeffries progressive?
Jeffries has referred to himself as a “pragmatic progressive.” While his core viewpoints are in line with a lot of progressive thinking, he has said he doesn’t believe in sacrificing everything for a legislative wish list when it might be out of reach.
He is a member of the House Progressive Caucus, a collective of legislators which works to push forward a more progressive agenda in the legislature, and has worked throughout his career in support of various progressive causes like criminal justice reform and affordable housing.
How old is Hakeem Jeffries?
Hakeem Jeffries is 52 years old. Pelosi, by contrast, is 82.
Were Jeffries to take on the role as party leader, he would certainly represent the shift towards a younger generation of Democratic Party leaders that Pelosi mentioned in her farewell speech.
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Who are Hakeem Jeffries’ parents?
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was born to mother Laneda Jeffries and father Marland Jeffries.
In an interview with journalist Farah Halime, Jeffries noted that his “public service spirit” came from his parents, both public servants themselves. His mother was a social worker while his father worked as a state substance-abuse counselor.