Rep. Hakeem Jeffries Says Elections Bill ‘Inspired By Hugo Chavez’ In Slip-Up

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Kyle Schmidbauer Associate Editor
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House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries accidentally named the Venezuelan socialist dictator Hugo Chávez during a press conference Wednesday.

Jeffries spoke on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, two sweeping election reform bills Democrats have campaigned for in recent weeks.

Jeffries fumbled while trying to name labor leader Cesar Chavez in response to questions from the press, who expressed concern that left-wing members of the Democratic Party may be becoming frustrated with congressional Democrats’ inability to enact key agenda items.

“House Democrats have delivered in each and every area, and it’s my expectation that we’ll be able to find a pathway forward with the Senate on Build Back Better, and certainly, hopefully on voting rights,” Jeffries said, before comparing Democrats’ struggle to those of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders of his era. (RELATED: Hakeem Jeffries Invokes Framers Of The Constitution To Defend New Gender-Neutral Language Rules)

“And things aren’t necessarily going to happen instantaneously. It didn’t for Dr. King; it didn’t for Rosa Parks; it didn’t for Fannie Lou Hamer, or John Lewis, or A. Philip Randolph, or Roy Wilkins, or Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Shirley Chisholm. And we’re inspired Hugo Chavez … Cesar Chavez we’re inspired by all of these leaders,” he added.

After correcting himself, Jeffries cited the struggles of these historic figures as inspiration for the Democrats’ pursuance of voting legislation.

Jeffries has represented New York’s Brooklyn-centric eighth congressional district since 2013, and has been floated as a potential successor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.