Hoyer, Clyburn to step down from leadership roles and clear the way for Jeffries

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn (SC) announced Thursday that they will remain in Congress next year but will not seek a leadership position, joining Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif .), who had announced the same decision moments before.

The surprising development paves the way for rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY), the current chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, to jump several rungs up the leadership ladder to replace Pelosi in the next Congress, when Republicans will take control of the lower chamber.

In a letter to fellow Democrats, Hoyer said he is proud of his work in leadership, but “now is the time for a new generation of leaders.” He quickly endorsed Jeffries, who faces no other challenger.

“I look forward to serving as a resource to him, to the rest of our Democratic leadership team and to our entire Caucus in whatever capacity I can best be of assistance as we move forward together to address the nation’s challenges,” Hoyer wrote.

Hoyer, a 42-year veteran of Capitol Hill, said he intends to return to the powerful Appropriations Committee — a position he had held before joining the leadership — to work on issues including education, health care and efforts to boost domestic production.

“I also look forward to continuing my focus on voting rights, civil rights and human rights, which I have prioritized throughout my public life,” he wrote.

Hoyer has been the No. 2 House Democrat, behind Pelosi, since 2003. He was long considered the heir to the top spot whenever Pelosi decided to bow out.

As the years wore on during Pelosi’s tenure, however, the composition of the caucus shifted from one with a significant number of moderates to a more liberal-heavy group—a shift believed to have disadvantaged the centrist Hoyer.

In addition, Pelosi, Hoyers and Rep. Jim Clyburn (SC), the long-serving Democratic whip, frustrated the ambitions of younger lawmakers eager to join the leadership ranks. When Pelosi resigned, the other two immediately became more vulnerable to internal challenges.

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who heads the Congressional Black Caucus, said Thursday that the group would likely vote unanimously for Jeffries, who is a member, over any potential challenger, including Hoyer.

Instead, Hoyer will resign and join the congregation in the next Congress.

“I look forward to working with all of you in the days and months ahead to pursue the policies that will build a stronger, fairer and more just America ‘For the People,'” he wrote.

Clyburn’s announcement further paves the way for Jeffries. In addition to Jeffries, he endorsed the two other Democratic incumbents — Reps. Katherine Clark (Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.) — who are expected to seek the No. 2 and No. 3 three seats, respectively.

“Speaker Pelosi has left an indelible mark on Congress and the country, and I look forward to her continued service and doing what I can to help our new generation of Democratic leaders, which I hope will be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar,” Clyburn said in a statement.

Mychael Schnell contributed. Updated at 14.44

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