Jeffries will succeed Nancy Pelosi who retired as speaker in the prior session of Congress, marking a new era of Democratic leadership. Democrats Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn also announced they would not seek their leadership positions in the 118th Congress. Clyburn is expected to be appointed as an assistant leader in the new Congress.
Back in November, Democrats selected Jeffries to lead their party during a closed-door election as he ran unopposed.
Yesterday afternoon, he was nominated as speaker by California Democrat Pete Aguilar who paid tribute to Jeffries by quoting a lyric by the Notorious B.I.G which he was known for doing on the House floor.
"Today, Hakeem's leadership style is quite simple: spread love. It's the Brooklyn way," he said. "Madam Clerk, a Latino, is nominating for leader of this chamber a Black man for the first time in our history."
While the Democrats were united behind Jeffries, the Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the House failed to elect a new speaker. On three different ballots, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan did not secure the 218 votes needed for the speakership.
Seeming to mock their GOP colleagues, Democrats in the chamber were heard chanting “Hakeem, Hakeem,” while applauding their new leader.
After the session, Jeffries told reporters that he would not involve himself in helping the Republicans elect a speaker.
“We are looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction,” Jeffries said.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jeffries graduated with a degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton and received a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. He also earned a Juris Doctor from the New York University School of Law where he was on the law review.
Jeffries launched his political career as a member of the New York State Assembly in 2006. He was elected to New York’s 8th congressional district, which includes sections of Brooklyn and Queens in 2012. Currently, he is serving his sixth term in office.
In 2019, he was named Chairman of the Democratic caucus, the youngest ever to serve in the role. He also was an impeachment manager during the Senate trial of then-President Donald Trump.