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Israel: The Black Caucus and House Resolution 657

Israel: The Black Caucus and House Resolution 657

H.Res. 657: 166 co-sponsors — 11 were Black Caucus members.  On July 11, 2014, the House “passed” Resolution 657 reaffirming support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks (read here).   The resolution, which can be read in full here, was offered by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tom Cole (R-OK)657.  It “passed” by voice vote.  There was no recorded roll call vote.  And that kinda says something, which is: That the House GOP leadership that controls the chamber didn’t want a vote.  Funny because — at the time — that leadership included Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). 

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Rep. Steve Israel and Rep. Tom Cole were chief sponsors of the resolution.

“CBC members unanimously voted to endorse the shocking savagery of the latest Israeli assault upon Gaza in which some 1,400 Palestinians, many of them children, were killed,” states a petition at Black Agenda Report. Not to bother anyone too much with facts here, but only 11 of 166 House members of the resolution’s co-sponsors were African Americans.  As usual a much higher number of white Democrats of the 166 House members who co-sponsored the resolution are listed as supporters.   The logic would appear to be that if the CBC didn’t oppose it they were gleefully in favor of it. Hilarious. GOP leadership’s failure to call an actual roll call on the resolution is a very interesting issue here since so many Republicans are dying to be on record as favoring Israel.  Was it that the resolution couldn’t get to 218 with only 166 sponsors?  Regarding showpiece resolutions, who knows.  But that the sponsors could only get 11 CBCers out of 42 is hardly a CBC endorsement.  

Though the Israel resolution that “passed” the House on July 11, 2014, it was moved by voice vote rather than recorded vote.  But there was a way to find out EXACTLY who supported it and who didn’t: The resolution’s co-sponsor list.  You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to find this.  Since House resolutions are mainly symbolic, who the sponsors are is typically a statement of who really cares and who doesn’t.  But to assume you know exactly what an individual’s views are via their name on a resolution is silly. Resolutions are 98% political theater.  

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Chair Fudge

So how many Black Caucus members were co-sponsors on the Israel resolution out of 42 in the House?  Uh, that would be 11 of 42 and 10 of 166 overall.  So there was a much higher percentage of white Democrats. The 11 in the CBC who were co-sponsors were:  Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-NY), Steve Horsford (D-NV), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Danny Davis (D-IL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA).

That’s 11 of 166 members who did support it…  so 6% of the co-sponsors were Black… and you’d have to pretty stupid if your name is Jeffries, Hastings, Wilson, Clarke or Horsford to fail to support a resolution affirming Israel’s right to defend itself.  In a representative democracy, who voted to send you to Washington is sort of a key thing. What many forget in analyzing Black Caucus votes is that the majority of the members represent districts that are not minority majority (see: Horsford, Veasey, Clarke, Hastings…).  Though some may want to hold on to the romantic nostalgic view of what Blacks “should” be doing and how they “should” be voting that view often doesn’t match who their constituents are.  In short: This is not 1972.

Of course, Dr. Cornel West, who’s supposed to be smart or something, sends this out on Sept. 18, 2014 via twitter:  9-23 action “Shame the Congressional Black Caucus” 4 not denouncing , 4 opposing

Did West check anything beforehand? Of course not.  This is the age of the 144 character doctrine. There are surely votes to protest Black Caucus members over (ie: Support of the Bush Tax Cuts, the Clinton Crime Bill,  a recent vote on a bill with 3 new mandatory minimums…) but this is an odd choice.