Democrats line up behind Hakeem Jeffries as next House minority leader

Top Democrats are coalescing their support behind longtime Democratic caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries to be the head of a new-look team that will lead Democrats after two decades under the trio of Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn.

Mr Jeffries, an attorney who has represented New York’s Eighth District since 2013, has served as the Democratic caucus chair since the start of the 116th Congress in 2019.

At 52 years old, he is a full three decades younger than Ms Pelosi, Mr Hoyer, and Mr Clyburn; and if Democrats retake the House majority in 2024 he would become the first Black speaker of the House.

Mr Clyburn, who has served as both the Democratic whip (when in the majority) and the assistant minority leader (in the minority), endorsed Mr Jeffries to be the next leader in a statement issued shortly after Ms Pelosi announced that she would not stand for election to the leadership in the 118th Congress.

The South Carolina representative said it had been a “great privilege and high honour” to serve alongside Ms Pelosi, and said he looks forward to doing “whatever [he] can to assist our new generation of Democratic Leaders,” adding that he hopes the new leadership team will consist of Mr Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Democratic caucus vice-chair Pete Aguilar of California.

Mr Hoyer, who like Ms Pelosi has led House Democrats for two decades, also threw his weight behind Mr Jeffries in a statement announcing that he will not be a candidate for leadership in the new Congress.

The veteran Maryland representative said it is “time for a new generation of leaders” and declared that he is “proud” to offer “strong support” to Mr Jeffries as his replacement “a role in which he will make history for the institution of the House and for our country”.

“He is a skilled and capable leader who will help us win back the Majority in 2024 as we strive to continue delivering on our promises to the American people,” said Mr Hoyer, who added that he looks forward to remaining in the House and “serving as a resource” to Mr Jeffries, the new Democratic leadership team, and the entire Democratic caucus “in whatever capacity” he can “best be of assistance”.