Washington (CNN) – Some Democrats are not so subtly using the tragedy in Arizona to point fingers at Republicans for stoking inflammatory political rhetoric, but Democratic Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says there is blame on both sides.
"We have Democrats saying dumb things every single day, and Republicans as well," said Cleaver.
Washington (CNN) - The Congressional Black Caucus has decided to withhold its approval for the House Democratic leadership team, denying Speaker Nancy Pelosi full support of the 42-member organization as she campaigns to remain leader.
After a nearly two hour long meeting on Monday night, chairwoman Barbara Lee of California said the group only will endorse caucus member James Clyburn of South Carolina for a leadership position. The caucus first wants to know what his role will be in the Democratic leadership before backing the full slate.
"We fully support our current Whip, Mr. Clyburn, for the number three position and we are currently reserving judgment on the entire package until we see what the actual portfolio entails, in terms of responsibilities," Lee said.
Washington (CNN) - The chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus said Tuesday that two African-American Republicans elected to Congress last week were welcome to join the group, but one of the new members-elect - Tim Scott of South Carolina - indicated he would decline.
"I grew up in an environment where we were just very much integrated, and life worked out really well," Scott told reporters Tuesday. "I think the best for America is finding a way to fuse all of our communities together and erase all those lines that separate us."
(CNN) – A veteran House representative from Texas said she made a mistake when she awarded charitable scholarships to her family members instead of students in her district.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has been under fire recently, accused of breaking rules in giving the scholarships to relatives.
"I've acknowledged that I was negligent. I've acknowledged that I made a mistake," Johnson said during an interview on CNN's "AC 360" on Thursday.
Johnson is accused of awarding scholarship money to her grandsons, David and Kirk Johnson, as well as the children of her Dallas district director, Rod Givens, last year. Each of the relatives were awarded two scholarships in the past year.
Washington (CNN) – The Congressional Black Caucus released the following statement today on the firing of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod:
“It is troubling that Shirley Sherrod was asked for her resignation as Georgia State Director for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of an edited video clip. A full review of the clip demonstrates Ms. Sherrod’s personal transformation. She was clearly educating the public about the power of redemption. It is now apparent that Secretary Vilsack did not have all of the facts available to him and overreacted.
“The Congressional Black Caucus continues to believe that Ms. Sherrod was unfairly asked to resign, without due process and should be reinstated immediately. There are many individuals still serving in the Department of Agriculture who were responsible for years of discrimination against African American farmers.
“We also believe that a national dialogue on race must be held. Last November, we held a forum on race in Washington DC to begin the discussion. The basis for Ms. Sherrod’s resignation is another example of why we must not sweep race under the rug. Rather, we must come together as a nation and recognize that we do not live in a post-racial era and that while difficult, we must confront these issues head on with clarity and without fear.
“Ms. Sherrod has been an effective public servant and it would be tragic to lose a person of such caliber, competence and commitment to fairness and equality and one who has dedicated her life to working for a more perfect union.”
Washington (CNN) - Lawmakers reviewing the impact of the federal economic stimulus program say they are finding a need to more directly target the African-American community, where unemployment figures suggest the jobless picture is worse than the country at large.
At a hearing Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus released findings that show blacks comprise nearly 18 percent of the unemployed, even though African-Americans make up less than 12 percent of the labor force.
"The so-called Great Recession has been absolutely crushing for the African American community," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, in a statement accompanying an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee.
Federally sponsored jobs that have come from the economic stimulus program are not reaching black unemployed, according to Ben Jealous, the head of the NAACP. After his testimony, he told CNN, "We have 2,900 job centers around this country and when somebody walks in they only see 10 to 30 percent of the federally funded jobs that are being created - that's outrageous."
(CNN) – As first reported Sunday evening by CNN Political Editor Mark Preston, the Congressional Black Caucus has accepted Sen. Harry Reid’s apology for remarks he made about President Obama's race and is dismissing calls for him to step down as majority leader.
See full statement below:
Sunday, January 10, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington D.C. – Today Rep. Barbara Lee, Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus issued the following statement in response to Republican demands that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid step down:
“I have had an opportunity to speak with Senator Reid and he apologized for his unfortunate remarks concerning the President and he understands the gravity of such remarks. There are too many issues like the economy, job creation and energy for these regrettable comments to distract us from the work that must be done on behalf of the American people.
“Over the years, I have had an opportunity to work with Majority Leader Reid. Senator Reid’s record provides a stark contrast to actions of Republicans to block legislation that would benefit poor and minority communities – most recently reflected in Republican opposition to the Health Bill now under consideration. I look forward to Senator Reid continuing to serve as Majority Leader to guide this important agenda through the Senate.
“The Congressional Black Caucus believes that thoughtful engagement and civil discourse on race is needed, as our first “Dialogue on Race” in November 2009 demonstrated. There is a deep unease about race which cannot be swept under the rug. I appreciate Senator Reid’s apology and look forward to our continuing work.”
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Washington (CNN) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on President Obama Friday to address the skyrocketing unemployment rate facing minorities - especially African-Americans and Latinos - and greater economic conditions plaguing low-income communities.
"Our job is to make sure the legislation that gets to the president's desk responds to the degradation and the crisis in our community," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, at a Friday news conference. "Our community is bleeding. And we are the worst hit."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in November 2009 for blacks is at 15.6 percent - and 12.7 percent for Hispanics. In comparison, the rate for whites is 9.3 percent.
The latest job numbers show that a drop in the U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 10.2 percent to 10 percent in November.
"Our Nation has suffered substantial unemployment and underemployment over a prolonged period, which has imposed significant economic and social costs, particularly in communities of color," the December 9 letter, from Chairwoman Barbara Lee and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver to Obama, stated. "We appreciate your attention to these prescriptive measures and look forward to working with you."
(CNN) – Members of President Obama's own political party are charging that the White House and the Democratic Congressional leadership are not doing enough to help the unemployed and are threatening to organize a march on Washington of jobless Americans.
"Obviously there's something that's not getting through to them," said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois. "And we're going to let the White House and everybody who's concerned know that we have got people in our districts who are depending on us to deliver for them."
Rush and Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Candice Miller, R-Michigan, chair the new Congressional "Jobs Now Caucus," which is comprised of 112 Democrats and 17 Republicans.
Rush and Kaptur argue that a new jobs program is more important than health care reform, but stop short of threatening to hold up a vote on one of Obama's most important domestic policy initiatives.
"We're not there yet," Kaptur said.
Some of the proposals being floated by the caucus include: redirecting existing stimulus and TARP money to jobs programs and pressing for a new jobs bill, which they're careful not to call a "stimulus."
More than one member of the caucus told CNN the stimulus was crafted without enough input from lawmakers whose districts suffer from the highest jobless rates.
Washington (CNN) – Alleged White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi attended an exclusive reception for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in September, but were asked to leave when it was discovered they did not have tickets for the event, a foundation spokesman said Tuesday.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama also attended that fundraising dinner, but foundation spokesman Lance Jones emphasized that "at no time did Mr. and Mrs. Salahi have access to President Obama and Mrs. Obama."
The Salahis attended Obama's first official state dinner last week for visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but White House officials said they were not invited. Officials say they got into the event due to a breach in security.
The couple has publicly said they did not "party-crash" the state dinner and were cooperating with a Secret Service investigation into the matter.