Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is a top contender to be the next House Democratic leader after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Thursday she will step down from her leadership role.
Jeffries took office in 2013 and is the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, a leadership position he took on in 2019. Pelosi has headed her party’s House leadership since 2003.
Jeffries, 52, is the youngest member of the House Democratic leadership. Pelosi, 82, leads the party in the current Congress along with 83-year-old Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., 82-year-old Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass. Clyburn said he intends to stay in leadership but will not pursue the top position. Hoyer said he will not seek any leadership position.
Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee, and first worked as a corporate lawyer after he graduated from New York University School of Law. He was one of seven House managers in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in January 2020.
Jeffries praised Pelosi for her leadership in the House and called on his party to embrace diversity as they consider a new leader.
“The Speaker often reminds us that our diversity is our strength,” he said in a press release. “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.”
Jeffries was the lead sponsor for the bipartisan First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill aimed at reducing the federal prison population that was signed by Trump in 2018.