House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is on his way to once again making history with the full backing of Congressional Democrats. In all three roll call votes on Tuesday, Jeffries got 212 votes, at least nine more than Republican Kevin McCarthy. Jeffries won't cross the vote threshold to grab the Speaker's gavel because Republicans still have an edge overall, but Democrats made it crystal clear that Hakeem Jeffries is the unquestionable leader of the Democratic Caucus. At a press conference on Tuesday, Jeffries showed exactly why Democrats are supporting him in force.
According to NBC News, by securing 212 votes, Hakeem made history as the first Democratic leader to win support from every single member of their caucus since 2007. Rep. Nancy Pelosi had won unanimous support from her caucus after helping lead the party back into the majority in 2007.
"We are gonna stay here to get this done. We are unified, and we're all gonna support Hakeem Jeffries for speaker, the lead vote-getter in the last ballot," Rep. Pete Aguilar, the new House Democratic Caucus chair, said of Jeffries’ nomination during the second round of voting.
But while Democrats were unified in voting for Jeffries, Republicans disagreed on who their next leader would be. The House adjourned Tuesday without picking a new speaker, since McCarthy failed to win a majority on three ballots. According to CBS News, Tuesday's vote was the first time in 100 years that the House speaker seat remained unfilled after the convening of a new Congress. Additionally, it is also the first time in a century that the Speaker election has needed multiple rounds of voting.
During a speech Tuesday, Jeffries told reporters he is not willing to help Republicans elect a speaker.
“We are looking for a willing partner to solve problems for the American people, not save the Republicans from their dysfunction,” Jeffries said.
He also nailed his introductory press conference by calling out the lack of organization among Republicans. He noted that while Democrats are “united, present, ready, willing, and able to get things done on behalf of the American people,” Republicans are dysfunctional.
Of course, while Republicans like McCarthy insisted to reporters that the party is "unified," the reality of the situation is clear.
"This isn't about me," McCarthy said, according to CBS News. "This is about the conference now because the members who are holding out … they want something for their personal selves."
Nevertheless, whatever reason it may be, Republicans seem to be confused now more than ever while Democrats are ready to make moves.
Jeffries comes with substantial leadership experience. He is not only the youngest member to serve as chairman of the Democratic Caucus, but was also part of a select group of lawmakers who were impeachment managers during the Senate trial of Donald Trump.
According to CNN, Jeffries is set to become one of the highest-ranking Black politicians in America, as the country makes history with a record number of Black members of Congress.
Democrats continue to show the country that they are united and able to get things done, and kudos to House Democrats for making that contrast very clear.
What better way to start the year than by previewing the biggest contests of 2023 on this week's episode of The Downballot? Progressives will want to focus on a Jan. 10 special election for the Virginia state Senate that would allow them to expand their skinny majority; the April 4 battle for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could let progressives take control from conservatives; Chicago's mayoral race; gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Louisiana; and much, much more.