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Hakeem Jeffries: New Yorker Head of House

Hakeem+Jeffries%3A+New+Yorker+Head+of+House

After a contentious vote, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn defeated fellow Representative Barbara Lee of Oakland to become head of the House Democratic Conference.

Lee has long been considered a leading progressive in Congress, voting against the Iraq War, for gun control, and being a founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

Her defeat was seen as an upset and a symbolic defeat for the old guard of the party at the hands of the newer generation, with Jeffries being younger than Lee by 24 years.

Jeffries also represented an ideological contrast to his defeated opponent. Although a member of the Progressive Caucus, Jeffries has presented himself as a centrist, having strongly pro-Israel views and supporting the private sector and charter schools. His acceptance of donor money and his fierce opposition to Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election also draws the ire of the left.

While a mainly ceremonial role, being head of the House caucus gives its bearer more publicity and has been seen as a stepping stone for more powerful positions, including Speaker of the House.

Jeffries could come to represent the shift of power in the Democratic Party, away from politicians who have been fixtures of the party for decades, and towards a younger and more diverse grassroots.

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