Who is Hakeem Jeffries?

By Juliegrace Brufke, Washington Examiner

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) made history on Wednesday as the first black lawmaker elected to lead a party in Congress, with his Democratic colleagues lauding him as a unifier within the caucus as the party ushers in a new generation of leadership.

Jeffries steadily climbed the leadership ranks since first coming to Congress in 2013, with Democratic sources telling the Washington Examiner that despite the New York Democrat not being one to seek out attention, his work on the House Judiciary Committee and role as an impeachment manager stood out.

“Hakeem is a bridge builder. He has always believed in reaching out to members from across the spectrum to unite the party. He is smart on policy — and also gets politics and communications. He is incredibly disciplined and even — a rare, dynamic package,” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told the Washington Examiner.

After graduating from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1992, the Brooklyn native went on to get his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University in 1994 before earning his law degree from New York University in 1997. Prior to entering the political realm, Jeffries worked for the high-profile New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison and later as an in-house counsel for Viacom and CBS.

Jeffries, 52, is expected to govern to the left of Pelosi in the new Congress.

“He’s a pragmatic progressive who works across the aisle to get stuff done,” one source close to Jeffries said. “He’s also got one of the most progressive voting records in Congress.”

While Pelosi made history as the first female speaker, multiple lawmakers and operatives noted the significance of Jeffries becoming the first person of color to obtain the top party position in either chamber.

Darren Peters, who served as an adviser to ex-Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s 21st Century Council Executive Committee, noted the significance of a CBC member obtaining the role and the increase in influence the group has had in recent years.

“Never in my wildest dreams was imagining that you know, we could, that we would someday while I’m here, you know, have an African American leader, not to mention potential speaker of the House of Representatives. I mean, it’s a monumental feat, and the fact that he is, you know, as young as he is, I mean, it’s got to be extremely inspirational, not just for African Americans, but to a number of groups who aspire to higher heights,” he said.

Read more at the Washington Examiner.

Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 1, 2022

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