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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged President Obama on Tuesday to act on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, including pressuring China to intervene in the mass killing of civilians in the African nation.
"We have to act," said Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia. "If we fail to act, we fail to do something, history will not be kind to any of us. This is genocide."
The Darfur conflict started in February 2003 when black African rebel groups attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan. Darfur is a region in Sudan.
Lewis, who is also a civil rights activist, was arrested during a protest last month outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington. He and others called for expressions of solidarity such as fasting, petition drives and meetings with top U.S. envoys.
Actress Mia Farrow was a keynote speaker at a news conference lawmakers held near the U.S. Capitol. The actress said Obama has yet to affirm his strong statements made as a senator against the situation in Sudan.
(CNN) - A Missouri congressman is denying former Cuban president Fidel Castro's claim that a member of the fact-finding delegation described the U.S. as "racist."
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is one of the seven lawmakers who visited the island nation on a congressional delegation. Members of the CBC met with President Raul Castro and three of which met with brother, Fidel, at the home of the Cuban revolutionary leader.
In a statement released by the Cuban government, Fidel Castro praised the seven Democratic congressional delegates and alleges that one member said that despite President Obama's electoral victory, "America continues to be racist." The former Cuban president would not disclose the name of the delegate who allegedly made such statement.
Cleaver denied such a comment was ever made at a news conference following the delegation's return Tuesday night.
"That did not happen," Cleaver said
Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the CBC who led the delegation to Cuba, said she did "not have any comment with regard to that. I am not privy to anyone saying that in any meaning. I don't remember that."
Cuban-American Republican lawmakers blasted the CBC members' visits with Raul and Fidel Castro.
"Regardless of one's position on US Cuba policy, one would expect that any US official or Member of Congress visiting Cuba would have the courage to meet with members of Cuba's struggling independent civil society and raise concerns about the regime's systematic violation of human rights with Cuban officials," Florida Sen. Mel Martinez said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"To meet with the Castro brothers and not bring up the subject of their appalling human rights abuses is a shameful missed opportunity," Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Congressional Black Caucus just finished meeting and voted unanimously to support Roland Burris.
Rep Barbara Lee, D-California, CBC Chairwoman told reporters the caucus will put out a statement soon and inform the Senate of its decision.
(CNN) – Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the new vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Tuesday President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat should not viewed as 'the black seat.'
“Mr. Burris will be seated or won’t be seated on the basis of what happens in a court. I don’t think it’s in the people of Illinois’ interests for us to color that seat," Cleaver told reporters on Capitol Hill. "That seat can’t be the black seat. If that happens we begin to lose the progress we made.”
Those comments appear at odds with views of Rep. Bobby Rush, who has implored Senate Democrats to seat Burris because there are currently no African-American members of the Senate, and called the currently all-white chamber the "the last bastion of plantation politics."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Congressional Black Caucus Political Education & Leadership Institute will announce Monday that its Democratic Presidential Debate will be held January 21, the nationally recognized holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event will be broadcast live from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, by CNN, CNN International, CNN Radio, and the network’s other platforms.
“It is fitting this final South Carolina Democratic Presidential debate will take place on the day South Carolina and the nation honor Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-South Carolina. “South Carolina’s primary will be the first test of the candidates in a state where nearly half of the Democratic primary voters could be African Americans.”