Newswire: Amid the chaotic speakership debate in the House, a star is born

Representative Hakeem Jeffries

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

It’s possible that after the bitter campaign for House Speaker ended on January 7th, Americans – especially Black Americans – felt a strong sense of déjà vu.
New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries provided a masterclass on leadership and served up a clear reminder of what an up-and-coming senator from Illinois named Barack Obama once did during a divided America.
“Progress asserted itself tonight, manifested in [Hakeem] Jeffries, even amidst a hostile takeover of the House by neo–fascists,” Jason Randolph of Vote.org commented.
Randolph said Jeffries delivered “what’s likely the best political speech not given by Obama in generations.”
On July 27, 2004, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, a 42-year-old Barack Obama, who a few months earlier won a Senate primary in Illinois, spoke eloquently and inspiringly about the divide facing America.
“Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of ‘anything goes,’” Obama asserted.
“Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”
Nineteen years later, in 2023 where many say politics are as divisive and dangerous as ever, Jeffries, 52, channeled Obama by providing a masterclass on leadership. He called for “maturity over Mar-a-Lago,” a direct shot at new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s praise of Trump.
Throughout Jeffries’ speech, Trump supporting Republicans jeered while Democrats rose to applaud the Brooklyn born congressman.
Jeffries smoothly went through the alphabet to capture all the ails America, and what’s needed to repair the divided nation.
“House Democrats will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues,” Jeffries asserted.
“Freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting, hopefulness over hatred quality of life issues over Q’Anon, reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, and voting rights over voter suppression.”
Earlier, the Republican Party did, in fact, select a speaker, albeit grudgingly; however, given the 15 rounds it took for McCarthy to secure the necessary votes, it’s possible that his tenure as speaker won’t last.
Whether or not McCarthy remains speaker, his ascension to the top post in the chamber is unlikely to be remembered as the 118th Congress’ defining moment.
McCarthy, despite multiple defeats before winning the speakership race and his previous condemnation of former President Trump’s role in the 2021 insurrection, still praised Trump.
The person elected to lead Congress and look out for America’s best interests praised an alleged would-be over thrower of the U.S. government just two years and one day after the Trump-inspired insurrection in which several lives were lost.
Although a congressional committee recommended criminal charges and numerous members of Trump’s inner circle testified to the committee about the former president’s guilt.
McCarthy, upon being presented with the speaker’s gavel, remarked, “I do want to especially thank President Trump.”
“Do not doubt, in my opinion; in fact, no one should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning. So, thank you, President Trump.
However, two years earlier, McCarthy held that “the President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
McCarthy’s moments aside, many people who watched the inauguration of the 118th Congress said that Jeffries, the first African American to lead a major political party in Congress, demonstrated true leadership.
“Rep. Hakeem Jeffries speaks truth to power,” declared attorney Ben Crump.
“Politicians must remember that they represent U.S. All of us. Let’s encourage our lawmakers to work together and pass policy that helps all American people and that preserves our democratic form of government,” Crump said.
“This is what leadership looks like, sounds like and does,” podcaster Chris Hahn tweeted.
Strategist Steve Schmidt added, “The early morning hours of January 7 marked the rise of a new American leader: Hakeem Jeffries. The thunderclap was the magnificence of his voice rising in defense of the American creed and his taking his place in a long line of liberty’s defenders.”
Actor Rob Reiner simplified the outpouring of accolades resulting from Jeffries’ speech. “A star is born,” Reiner

Newswire :  Rep. Karen Bass of California will lead the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history

 By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

 

 Representative Karen Bass (D-CA)

On November 27 during a long day of selecting who will lead Democrats in the for U.S. House for the next two years, members of the Congressional Black Caucus selected California Congresswoman Karen Bass to be the next Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. For the next two years, the CBC will be 55 members, the largest in history. Bass told NNPA after the vote that she wants to elevate individual members of the Caucus during her tenure. “One of my most significant goals I believe is to try to elevate the unbelievable accomplishments of individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus that I believe have not really received the attention and the acknowledgement that they deserve — that’s my agenda,” Bass told NNPA. The CBC will have more power within the Democratic Caucus in the U.S. House with five full chairmanships of top committees and also two members of the CBC, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), in leadership positions. Bass will be the 26th chair of the CBC, and the eighth woman to hold the position. Bass, 65, is a popular member of the CBC. She once served as the 67th Speaker of the California Assembly from 2008–2010 and is known for being tough and savvy. “From her days in the California General Assembly where she became the first African-American woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body, to her work in Congress to address both domestic and international issues affecting people of African descent, Congresswoman Bass has demonstrated tried and true leadership,” said outgoing CBC Chair Cedric Richmond. “From fighting for criminal justice reform and child welfare to affordable health care and a stronger economy for all, Karen has devoted her life to serving California families and African-American communities across the country. Karen is a proven leader who never backs down and always stands up for the values of inclusion and opportunity for all,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement after Bass was elected. Also elected were: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), 1st Vice Chair; Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), 2nd Vice Chair; Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), Secretary; Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA), Whip; and Congressman-elect Steven Horsford (D-NV), Parliamentarian.