If there’s any indication that the policy concerns of Black members of Congress are currently not a top priority, it’s that the Congressional Black Caucus has not had a sit down policy meeting with the President in 700 days as of today.
Though the President is planning to have his second dinner with Senate Republicans on Wednesday, April 10, the Black Caucus has yet to meet with President Obama this year or last. Â Their last meeting with the President as a group was at the White House on May 12, 2011. Â With that, the President will have conversed more with Senators such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain who spend much of their time attempting to obstruct the President’s agenda, than he has any member of the Black Caucus. read this for a more detailed story on recent CBC dealings with the President
In the interim, the President has met with the Congressional Hispanic CaucusÂ (01.25.13), had dinner with Senate Republicans who have blocked his agenda, met with Rep. Paul Ryan (D-WI), travelled to Israel, met with leaders of African nations and had two lengthy interviews with Hispanic media. Â As the immigration issues and gay marriage have dominated headlines, big issues disproportionately confronting Black Americans are on the back burner.
No set date for a meeting between President Obama and the CBC has been made as of yesterday.
With 53 schools closing in Chicago on March 29 and 22 people shot over the weekend in the city, there are big issues to discuss both local in nature and national in scope. Â The larger issues overshadow the issue (regarding the CBC Obama relationship) that received most of the press attention last month: That the Chair of the CBC, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) called on the President to nominate an African American to his cabinet.Â Over 10 hires to top positions in the Obama Administration since January, the President has hired none.
But policy matters stemming from the gun debate to the budget, to the black unemployment rate (13.8%) and diversity VISAS are only a few issues the President and the Black Caucus could discuss at any upcoming policy meeting.
Two members of the CBC have offered legislation over the last two weeks dealing with the student loan debt crisis (Student Loan Fairness Act/Rep. Bass) and youth violence prevention and over-incarceration (the Youth PROMISE Act/Rep. Scott). Â Another, Rep. Elijah Cummings, has offered legislation on straw purchases. Â Will the Administration push these ideas in any gun legislation that moves through Congress? Stay tuned.