Chaos hit the House floor Tuesday when Republicans, who won a majority during the midterm elections, failed to unanimously elect a speaker. In a once-in-a-century political snafu, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy fell short of the 218 votes he needed to secure the speakership, stymied by a group of hard-right representatives in his party.
On Thursday House members carried out a seventh vote which still yielded no GOP victor. Without a resolution of the intraparty conflict, the chamber is effectively paralyzed as no new members can be sworn in until a speaker of the house is elected.
On the Democratic side, the race is case closed. Nancy Pelosi, the longtime California representative who has served as Speaker of the House since 2019, stepped down earlier this month, clearing the way for a new figure to take the mantle.
That figure is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a lawmaker from New York who has served in the chamber since 2013. Jeffries secured the vote of every Democratic lawmaker in all three rounds on Tuesday.
In inheriting the seat of Democratic Leadership, Jeffries makes history, becoming the first ever person of color to do so. Here's what else you need to know about the US Representative from NY's 8th District.
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Hakeem Jeffries elected: NY Rep. makes history as first Black lawmaker to lead a major party in Congress
Who is Hakeem Jeffries?
Hakeem Jeffries is a US Representatives serving the 8th of District New York. He is rumored to be the preferred successor to Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.
Jeffries, who was elected in 2013, has already been endorsed by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, both of whom have also announced plans to resign.
In their relinquishing of power, Hoyer, Clyburn, and Pelosi have cleared a path for a new guard to head up the party for the second half of the Biden presidency.
Jeffries was recently re-elected as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the party's No. 5 leadership position, and has been described by colleagues as competent, experienced, and respected.
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What party is Hakeem Jeffries?
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is a member of the Democratic Party, and the presumptive leader in the House.
Amid the chaos of GOP leader Kevin McCarthy's bid for speaker, Jeffries has remained the unanimous choice of the Democrats, receiving all 218 of the caucus' votes in each of seven rounds.
A brief Hakeem Jeffries bio
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is a Brooklyn native. Raised in Crown Heights by his parents, one a social worker, and one a caseworker, Jeffries now lives in Prospect Heights with his wife Kennisandra Arciniegas Jeffries, herself a social worker, and their two sons.
Jeffries attended Binghamton University for undergrad, before pursuing a masters in public policy Georgetown University and then a law degree from New York University.
He worked for years as a corporate lawyer serving clients like Viacom Inc. and CBS, and then entering politics at the local level. He was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, then ran for national office in 2012, unseating a 30-year incumbent to win his seat representing the 8th District.
What will a Republican House look like? A lot of investigations and maybe impeachment.
Where is Hakeem Jeffries from?
Rep. Jeffries is a lifelong Brooklynite. While he spent his childhood in the Crown Heights neighborhood, he now lives in Prospect Heights with his family.
Now that he has secured the top spot in the House, both Democratic leaders will hail from Brooklyn. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, also a lifelong resident of Kings County, has represented New York in the Senate since 1998.
What are Hakeem Jeffries' political views?
Hakeem Jeffries has been a vocal supporter of everyday costs for Americans. He was integral in helping the Democratic party to craft a campaign message around 'dollar and cents' issues ahead of the 2022 midterms.
His campaign websites lists lowering childcare and health care costs, as well as the cost of education and prescription drugs as top priorities.
Jeffries is also a champion of criminal justice reform, having worked on legislation aimed at correcting sentencing disparities for crack versus powder cocaine and introducing the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention in 2015, then later again in 2021 as part of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Jeffries is also a proponent of gun control measures and of women's reproductive rights, condemning along with many other congressional Democrats the overturning of Roe v. Wade earlier this year.
Is Hakeem Jeffries progressive?
Jeffries has referred to himself as a "pragmatic progressive." While his core viewpoints are in line with a lot of progressive thinking, he has said he doesn't believe in sacrificing everything for a legislative wish list when it might be out of reach.
He is a member of the House Progressive Caucus, a collective of legislators which works to push forward a more progressive agenda in the legislature, and has worked throughout his career in support of various progressive causes like criminal justice reform and affordable housing.
How old is Hakeem Jeffries?
Hakeem Jeffries is 52 years old. Pelosi, by contrast, is 82.
Were Jeffries to take on the role as party leader, he would certainly represent the shift towards a younger generation of Democratic Party leaders that Pelosi mentioned in her farewell speech.
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Who are Hakeem Jeffries' parents?
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was born to mother Laneda Jeffries and father Marland Jeffries.
In an interview with journalist Farah Halime, Jeffries noted that his "public service spirit" came from his parents, both public servants themselves. His mother was a social worker while his father worked as a state substance-abuse counselor.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Meet Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: Democrats' newly minted leader in the House