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Congressman Jeffries Becomes a First!

It took 15 Attempts for McCarthy to Become Speaker

It took 15 Attempts for McCarthy to Become Speaker

By Joseph Green-Bishop
Texas Metro News Correspondent

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
With the opening of the 118th Congress Representative Jeffries became the first African American in Congress to lead a major party.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the new Democratic leader in the United States House of Representatives, is the first African American in the history of Congress to lead a major political party.  The New York lawmaker succeeds former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will remain in Congress as Speaker Emerita.

 Jeffries was selected to lead his fellow legislators in a private session in November. A seasoned member of Pelosi’s leadership team, he was elected unanimously.

It fell to Jeffries to present the Speaker’s gavel to California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who realized his dream of leading the chamber after 14 unsuccessful voting sessions which included shouting matches between those who supported him and others who did not. The contest became so troubling that a physical confrontation nearly took place between two Republican members.

Prior to introducing Congressman McCarthy, Rep. Jeffries challenged House Republicans to work in the best interests of all Americans and not simply for narrow political and financial interests. He said that under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership Congress improved the lives of American people while Republicans opposed much-needed policies and legislation.


“House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, justice over judicial overreach, freedom over fascism and hopefulness over hatred,” Jeffries said to joyous applause from Democratic members as Republican members sat stiffly in their seats, mostly silent.

“We will pursue triumph over tyranny, voting rights over voter suppression, reason over racism, quality of life issues over QAnon, working families over the well-connected, and substance over slander.”  

In a direct reference to former President Donald Trump and his policies, Jeffries said that Democrats would pursue “maturity over Mar-a-Lago,” the principal residence of the former president in Florida. 

Jeffries said that while Democrats were in control of the House of Representatives, they demonstrated strength of character and a united purpose to benefit all Americans.

 “During the past two years House Democrats in partnership with President Biden and  Democrats in the U.S. Senate passed gun safety legislation, infrastructure improvements and advances in the areas of science and technology. We created jobs for the American people. The (d) in Democrat stands for deliverer,” he said as members of his caucus continued to applaud their new leader.


Jeffries said that the fact that he was now the highest-ranking Democratic member in the House of Representative was illustrative of the greatness of America. 

“Our diversity is our strength,” he said.  “We may have come to America in different ships, but we are all in the same boat now,” he said, quoting the late Congressman John Lewis (D-GA).

“We are in a moment of transition,” Jeffries said. “We have moved from a year of accomplishments to a year of ambiguity.  Americans who witnessed the vicious infighting among Republicans during the Speaker selection process had numerous  reasons to doubt their ability to lead.”

He concluded:

“As Democrats we extend a hand of partnership to those on the other side. We intend to find common ground not as Democrats or as Republicans, but as Americans.”


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