U.S. congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York launched a bid on Friday to become the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives. If he succeeds in the Nov. 30 leadership elections, as expected, he would become the first Black party leader in either chamber of Congress.
Here is a look at his background and political career.
A 52-year-old native of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Jeffries holds degrees from the State University of New York, Binghamton, Georgetown University and New York University Law School. He began his career as a lawyer before being elected to the New York state legislature, where he championed affordable housing and worked on policing issues, notably the controversial practice known as “stop and frisk.” He is married and has two children.
Jeffries was first elected to Congress in 2012. He played a leading role in winning passage of the bipartisan First Step Act of 2018, a law that reduced sentences for some drug crimes. He also worked on legislation to bar police “chokeholds” and certain other tactics following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, who was Black, by a white Minneapolis police officer.
In 2020, he was one of seven House “managers” who served as prosecutors in the first of the two Senate impeachment trials of former President Donald Trump. The House impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after he asked Ukraine to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden and his son on unsubstantiated corruption accusations and withheld aide to Kyiv. The Senate fell short of the two-thirds majority vote needed to convict Trump.
Jeffries has co-chaired the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, the party’s messaging arm, and has been a leader in the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2018, he was elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, making him the fifth highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber. Jeffries also is a member of the left-leaning Congressional Progressive Caucus. He is not particularly close with Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who is tipped to replace Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.
(Compiled by Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Will Dunham)