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Posts in "Congressional Black Caucus"
August 14, 2014
Passing a new Voting Rights Act in the GOP-dominated House was never going to be easy, supporters acknowledge. But with a powerful Republican such as Eric Cantor as an ally, hope flickered for nearly a year.
Then came June 10 and the shocking primary defeat that tanked Cantor’s congressional career — taking with it, in all likelihood, any prospect for an update of the landmark 1965 civil rights legislation that had been weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
Even with Cantor as majority leader, said a House aide close to the VRA negotiations, “I would have speculated that it was certainly a very steep climb. That it was unlikely, but there was still hope.”
But with the Virginia Republican out of the mix, the aide said, “it doesn’t appear we’re going to see it this Congress.”
It’s a disappointing turn that has some Democrats wondering if Cantor ever deserved the benefit of a doubt on minority voting rights. Full story
June 24, 2014
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen again Monday, while Democrats on the panel reserved much of their ire for Chairman Darrell Issa.
Issa, involved in a high-profile clash earlier this year with Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the panel, was criticized repeatedly during Monday’s hearing by Democrats who dismissed the proceeding as election-year posturing.
At one point, the California Republican warned Democrats that House rules forbid members from questioning the integrity or motives of other members — touching off a heated protest from Rep. Steven Horsford. The Nevada Democrat angrily contrasted Issa’s admonition Monday with the March 5 incident, in which Cummings’ microphone was turned off mid-statement on Issa’s orders.
May 14, 2014
If Rep. John Conyers Jr. can’t win re-election after he was ruled ineligible for the Democratic primary ballot Tuesday, it could set up a fight for the ranking member slot on the Judiciary Committee, with House Democrats already divided in an increasingly ugly showdown between two colleagues vying for their party’s top slot on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The re-election of Conyers has been thrown into doubt after the 25-term Michigan Democrat failed to collect valid signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot.
Conyers could seek to keep his seat by challenging the ruling, launching a write-in campaign or running as an independent, but if none of those contingency plans pan out, it will leave an opening several of his colleagues could be eager to fill. Full story
May 8, 2014
Rep. Steve Israel doesn’t want another tour of duty as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Let me think about it,” the New York Democrat told CQ Roll Call in a recent interview, feigning indecision for just an instant before delivering the punch line. “No! No. No. No.”
He exhaled with a long, loud laugh, and then grew serious.
“I very much want to continue being in leadership,” he said. “But three terms is a bad idea for our caucus. You need fresh blood.”
Israel has registered these sentiments with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but conversations have pretty much ended there for the time being. After all, Israel said, he has a majority to try and win back in November before he can stop and think about what might come next for him.
But once the dust settles from Election Day, Israel will be left at a career crossroads. He wants a seat at a leadership table without an empty chair: The “Big Five” slate of caucus chairman, vice chairman, whip, leader and assistant leader is likely to remain static in the 114th Congress.
Pelosi could use her influence to keep Israel relevant through the next few years by securing him a special position, but sources tell CQ Roll Call she could face backlash from members growing uneasy about her pattern of playing favorites.
Ultimately, it might be Israel’s choice: taking on another grueling two years of activity at the DCCC through what might be a better cycle in a presidential election year, or return to being a member of the rank and file.
While he insists he isn’t kept awake at night obsessing over the if-then’s, he must know that his short-term political future is drawing a blank — and that he could become a cautionary tale for what happens to ambitious members of the House Democratic Caucus who suddenly find themselves with little room to grow.
April 30, 2014
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported mixed reactions Wednesday to their meeting with Rep. Paul D. Ryan over comments the Wisconsin Republican made regarding poverty in inner cities that some in the CBC considered “highly offensive.”
CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, told reporters after the meeting that the two sides reached a consensus that poverty affects all communities across the country.
“Clearly there was some concern about comments that had been made about the culture in which we find this poverty,” said Fudge. “But we have agreed today that it is across the board. There is no particular place or people who experience poverty at a different rate than others.”
Ryan also told reporters that the meeting was part of an effort to expand the debate surrounding poverty. “I think what we’re trying to accomplish here is improving the tone of debate,” said Ryan, “so that more people are invited to this debate so that we do a better job of actually getting control of our problems with poverty.”
Fudge invited Ryan to meet with her caucus in March and said that the representatives had “a very cordial, respectful conversation.”
Fudge later said Ryan did not necessarily apologize for his comments, but reiterated that his phrasing was “inarticulate.” Fudge added, “But his policies belie that and basically say that he believes what he said. He may not just have wanted to have said it in that way.” Full story
April 29, 2014
During the Congressional Black Caucus’ special order hour on the House floor Monday night, Rep. Charles B. Rangel hammered the tea party not only for embracing the Confederate flag, but also for hating President Barack Obama “as much as their [Dixiecrat] predecessors probably hated Abe Lincoln.”
“[In] some parts of the United States of America they don’t believe that the Union won. The reason I come to that conclusion is that … I have never seen so many Confederate flags that represent groups that are proud of the fact that they call themselves the Tea Party,” the New York Democrat said during his 10-minute floor speech, referring to an event he attended with President Ulysses S. Grant’s great-great-grandson. “They’re from that part of the country that the states owned slaves.”
Rangel, the second most senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has pushed the White House to do more to combat poverty and inequality. The Senate recently passed an extension of unemployment benefits and there are new signs the House may take up legislation on an immigration overhaul.
April 25, 2014
In the campaign finance game, much hay is made over how much money a candidate can raise; in the race to be the next ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, however, it’s just as important how much money a candidate can spend on friends.
Rivals Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., and Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., showed in recent filings with the Federal Election Commission that they have raked in significant contributions from downtown donors in K Street lobby shops, in industries like technology and health care. But in their bids to succeed retiring California Rep. Henry A. Waxman as the powerful panel’s top Democrat, showing their clout and increasing their viability among their peers depends largely on how generous they can be with their checkbooks.
After all, when the time comes to chose the next ranking member of Energy and Commerce after the midterm elections, it won’t be outside interests, but the other 190 members of the House Democratic Caucus who will ultimately vote for either Pallone or Eshoo.
April 22, 2014
Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., said Tuesday the Congressional Black Caucus is open to working with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., on bipartisan legislative action on reducing poverty.
Ryan, who came under fire from black leaders after recent comments about inner-city unemployment, will hold a hearing next week examining the results of the War on Poverty, and has also accepted an invitation to meet with the CBC.
Moore said the caucus sees the Ryan meeting as an opportunity. Full story
April 21, 2014
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. received donations from health care groups and technology giants, and gave money to more than a dozen fellow Democrats, including some in vulnerable seats, a new filing for his leadership political action committee shows.
The New Jersey Democrat, vying for the ranking member slot on the Energy and Commerce Committee in a closely-contested race, raised $116,000 for Shore PAC in the month of March. Among the groups giving money were Microsoft, AT&T, Comcast and NBC Universal.
Pallone also racked up cash from health care groups, including the American Medical Association, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Hospital Association, American Psychiatric Association, American College of Cardiology, American College of Surgeons Professional Association and the American Academy of Neurology.
He spent $49,000, according to the PAC filing.
Members he gave to include Reps. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia; Raul Ruiz of California; Kyrsten Sinema, Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber of Arizona; Tim Walz of Minnesota; John Barrow of Georgia; Dan Maffei of New York and Timothy H. Bishop of New York; Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire and Brad Schneider of Illinois, among others.
Pallone’s rival for the panel position to replace retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Anna G. Eshoo of California, raised $203,000 over the quarter, a longer filing period, for her leadership PAC. Her donations mostly came from high-tech and telecommunication firms.
April 16, 2014
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo’s leadership political action committee raised $203,000 — mostly from high-tech and telecommunication firms — as she bids to be ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It is the first leadership PAC of the California Democrat’s nearly 22-year congressional career. First-quarter numbers for Eshoo’s main rival for the post, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., were not yet available.
Eshoo’s PAC was bolstered by contributions from the PACs of some powerful industry players who could come before the Energy and Commerce Committee, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast and NBC Universal, Google and Microsoft.
Leadership PACS are not just about receiving money, but about being able to spend cash, too, specifically in support of colleagues whose relationships could be professionally beneficial.
In her quarterly report, Eshoo revealed that she made donations to a number of her colleagues, including many in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program for vulnerable members. Members who received donations from Eshoo’s PAC include Rep. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, John F. Tierney of Massachusetts, Raul Ruiz of California, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Ami Bera of California.
April 10, 2014
The women of the Congressional Black Caucus want Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to rethink recently-revised Defense Department grooming standards that they say unfairly target hairstyles popular among female African-American soldiers.
In a letter dated Thursday, all 16 women of the CBC joined other critics of the DOD’s grooming policy who contend that the new standards make it more difficult for black servicewomen to maintain and upkeep their hair.
“We understand the intent of the updated regulation is to ensure uniformity in our military,” the CBC members wrote to Hagel, “[but] it is seen as discriminatory rules targeting soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair. Full story