Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

CBC Chairwoman: Race a Factor in Filibusters

Fudge says she believes race is a factor in Senate filibusters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fudge says she thinks race is a factor in Senate filibusters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minutes after Senate Republicans blocked confirmation of an African-American judge to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, suggested that one of the motivators for the filibuster was his race.

“I certainly think it had some impact,” said Fudge at a press conference flanked by fellow CBC members and Democratic Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island after Republicans blocked Judge Robert L. Wilkins. “It is clear who they are keeping out of judicial nominations and other positions that we know have to be filled for the government to run effectively.

“You have to ask them what their motives are,” Fudge continued. “All I know is what I see.”

Fudge’s remarks at the press briefing, convened to coincide with the expected doomed Senate vote to invoke cloture on Wilkins’ nomination, 53-38, also came weeks after the Senate filibustered the nomination of Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to head up the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“Senate Republicans are playing games with the nomination of my colleague, Mel Watt … likely the only sitting member of Congress in decades to have their confirmation blocked,” Fudge said. “The filibustering of Watt must be addressed.”

Watt, an eleven-term veteran of Congress, is a member of the CBC, and his colleagues were enthusiastically pushing for his appointment due both to his credentials and to the diversity he would bring to the Obama administration.

President Barack Obama has, in recent months, been been criticized on and off Capitol Hill for not adequately filling high-level offices with candidates who are not white men.

“What is the price we pay for prejudice?” Fudge asked. “All or most of the candidates that are being filibustered are women and minorities.”

Not everyone at the press conference touched on the racial or gender dynamics of the stalled Obama nominations, however, and Fudge herself acknowledged that this was only one part of the equation.

The major criticism of Senate Republicans came from Cardin and Whitehouse, who suggested that the blocked motions to invoke cloture were politically motivated: The GOP simply do not want to advance the nominations of a Democratic president.

Cardin, however, did make reference to Wilkins’ successful lawsuit against the Maryland State Police after his family fell victim to officers’ racial profiling. That suit, Cardin said, became the basis for President Bill Clinton’s related executive orders.

“And I’m hopeful that we’ll pass a national law against racial profiling,” Cardin said.

Wilkins’ blocked nomination has also reignited discussions over whether there needs to be a Senate rules changed to remove the 60-vote hurdle for presidential nominees, the so-called “nuclear option.”


  • giatny

    You know things aren’t going well when they play the race card over and
    over. Oprah’s remarks were stunning. Why can’t they understand that
    opposition to Obama is based on his agenda not his half black heritage?

    • Art Bagnall

      Because it’s NOT. There has been a LOT more racism in this country’s history than there has been opposition to Obama. There’s a reason that Obama has been treated like no other President in American history, and it’s not because he’s a “liberal”. There have been other “liberal” Presidents and they have recieved a LOT of hatred from people like you, but never before has one man been treated this way. WE all know why it is. When you accuse Obama of using the “race card” it’s a dog whistle to other bigots like you that it’s OK to hate people because of their race.
      In other words, you are LYING when you say that no one opposes Obama because of race.
      Phrases like “half black heritage” are code for “N” and you know it, Tea Party bigot.

      • edwinareed

        Thank you for speaking out. The racism is rampant and getting out of control against African-Americans in general. It’s been mostly dormant over the last couple of decades but the haters have reignited it with a vengeance. I for one appreciate Oprah Winfrey’s remarks; it’s about time someone with her notoriety spoke up, even if it had to be outside of her country. Most people aren’t haters but those who are, are loud and vile and get exposure. Those who stand up for right must and will overshadow the forces of evil.

      • hepette

        great post!!!!

    • hepette

      what is stunning about them????????????????i dare say you are not black and have no idea about racism period. your post is a lie.—YOU
      ARE THE ONE THAT DOESNT UNDERSTAND! i dare you to look at this site and tell me theres no racism connected with obama…..alldemocrats/not racist—it speaks for itself

  • danshanteal

    Harry Reid has run this scheme for decades. Now he resents it when he doesn’t get his way. Notice that nine senators didn’t vote. Google “U.S Senate Votes” to see who the no-shows were.

    • hepette

      you are silly———–its not about getting his way and you know it —its about letting a potus choose who he wants. like all the other potus did!

  • Igor Shafarevich

    Just as justice exists in the absence of injustice and peace exists in the absence of war, liberty exists in the absence of coercion.

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