U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries has been unanimously elected the top leader of the Democrats in the House.
He will be the first black representative to hold that office.
With Wednesday’s vote, the 52-year-old New Yorker succeeds Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, the first and, so far, the only female speaker of the House. Beginning with the new term on Jan. 3, Rep. Jeffries will serve as minority leader in a House that Republicans will control with a slim majority.
The Democrats also elected Rep. Katherine Clark, 59, of Massachusetts as the House whip, the No. 2 position, and Peter Aguilar, 43, of California as the chair of the Democratic caucus, which is Rep. Jeffries’ current position.
The election marks a shift from the older leadership to a younger generation. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, 83, and Majority Whip James Clyburn, 82, joined Speaker Pelosi in stepping down from leadership roles for the 118th Congress.
“Together, this new generation of leaders reflects the vibrancy and diversity of our great nation — and they will reinvigorate our caucus with their new energy, ideas and perspective,” Speaker Pelosi, 82, said in a statement Wednesday.
Democrats hold 213 seats; Republicans, 222. A minimum of 218 is required for a majority in the 435-seat chamber.
Earlier, Republicans in the House re-elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy as their leader.
Typically, it’s a slam-dunk for the majority party leader to be elected speaker, but at least five House Republicans have indicated they won’t vote for Rep. McCarthy.
The congressman has called on Republicans to unite behind him. “If we play games on the floor, the Democrats can end up picking who the speaker is.”