The selection of 52-year-old Jeffries, who was elected alongside California Rep. Pete Aguilar as House Democratic Caucus chair, makes him the first Black lawmaker to lead either party in the chamber. He will replace Pelosi as minority leader after running unopposed. The news comes not long after 82-year-old Pelosi, and 83-year-old Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced plans to retire from their positions following the loss of Democratic majority in the house this month.
“This is a moment of transition,” Jeffries told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday evening. “We stand on the shoulders of giants, but are also looking forward to being able to do what’s necessary at this moment to advance the issues.” Jeffries will be joined by newly-appointed minority whip, 59-year-old Rep. Katherine Clark, who previously served as vice chair of the Democratic Caucus before becoming assistant speaker at Congress. 43-year-old Congressional Hispanic Caucus member Rep. Pete Aguilar has also been elected Democratic Caucus chairman, the role Jeffries previously held.
Many Democrats have praised the decision to elect Jeffries, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “This is the most significant generational change that we have seen in House Democrats in several decades,” she said, per The New York Times. “I personally believe that we would benefit from a debate on what that means.”
Pelosi, the first woman to ever become Speaker of the House, announced her withdrawal from her position earlier this month.