November 21, 2022
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement on Thursday, November 17, that she would step away from the leadership ranks has set in motion a long-anticipated generational change in leadership for House Democrats, with a younger group of lawmakers set to take the mantle from the three octogenarians who have for years led the party in the House, reports The New York Times.
For two decades, Pelosi of California, 82, and Representatives Steny Hoyer of Maryland, 83, the House majority leader, and James Clyburn of South Carolina, 82, the Democratic whip, have remained at the top of their party in the House—freezing out dozens of ambitious junior lawmakers who were eager to ascend to more senior roles. Some left the House altogether rather than wait years for a chance to ascend, while many others have stayed, waiting less and less patiently for the day when Pelosi would step aside and make way for fresher faces.
Now, the old guard is heading out, and a new one coming in.
In announcing her plans, Pelosi said it was time for a younger crop of leaders to emerge, and Hoyer quickly followed suit, throwing his support behind Representative Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, 52, who is widely seen as her likeliest successor as Democratic leader.
Clyburn, who is also expected to cede his position in favor of a lower-ranking spot, according to people familiar with his plans, left his intentions vague on Thursday. But he pointed to a new generation of leaders, saying he looked forward to Jeffries and Representatives Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, 59, and Pete Aguilar of California, 43, as the new top Democrats in the House.
The three lawmakers have formed a tight alliance in the last two years in the more junior ranks of leadership and are widely viewed as the sole contenders for the top three slots in the caucus. House Democrats are scheduled to meet on November 30 to elect their leaders for the next Congress.
The three were careful on Thursday to avoid openly articulating their leadership ambitions on a day focused on Pelosi’s legacy. Leaving the House chamber after she delivered her emotional speech announcing plans to exit as a leader, Jeffries brushed aside questions and declared it “the day to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a leader for the ages.”
“We’ll see what happens as we move forward,” said Mr. Jeffries, who, if elected as Democratic leader, would make history as the first Black person in the top leadership position in either chamber.
Research contact: @nytimes