All Articles Tagged "Congress"
(Washington Post) — Forty years ago, the purpose of a caucus to represent African Americans in Congress seemed clear to its founders: to eradicate racism. The 13 legislators who formed the Congressional Black Caucus in March 1971 saw themselves as representatives of black people all over the country. Theirs was a role akin to civil rights activists. Only they had the bully pulpit of the country’s most powerful legislative body. The current caucus members , who are marking the anniversary of its founding this week, have a mission that is more diffuse, a role that is harder to define and power that has been fully absorbed into the nation’s political system. For one, the caucus has 43 members from urban and rural districts. It includes one Republican. A handful of its members have been elected from majority-white districts. Eight have faced ethics investigations in the past three years. One of its members is the third-most powerful House Democrat, and a former caucus member sits in the White House.
“There are challenges today that we did not have then,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who chairs the caucus and represents a district that is majority white. “We cannot at all times have all of the members in sync because of the differences we have in our constituencies. But most of the time when we vote our conscience, we end up voting in a block.” The challenges faced by the modern CBC include forging a relationship with the White House. President Obama met Wednesday with its leadership team. The conversation was wide-ranging, according to a CBC spokeswoman, and focused on federal budget issues and the country’s long-term investment in poor communities.
(Wall Street Journal) — As early as this weekend, the U.S. is expected to start handing control of military operations in Libya to alliance partners. But even if that transfer goes smoothly, many key military tasks will remain in U.S. military hands for the foreseeable future. In the short-term, the most important part of the mission-protecting civilians from attack by the forces of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi—remains squarely on the shoulders of U.S. forces. In a Pentagon briefing Friday, Vice Adm. William Gortney, the director of the U.S. Joint Staff, said the mission of protecting civilians “will remain in U.S. hands until such time as the coalition is ready to assume it,” meaning that U.S. aircraft would continue to fly bombing missions against Col. Gadhafi’s ground forces indefinitely. What’s more, military officials say U.S. forces are likely to remain involved in efforts to police the no-fly zone, providing the logistics backbone, surveillance tools and other specialized assets for the ongoing air campaign. And a larger question of the military’s potential support for a humanitarian relief operation-which could require the presence of U.S. troops on Libyan soil remains unanswered.
(ThyBlackMan) — There’s something going on with the conservative movement, and it doesn’t look good. Just days before the annual CPAC conference, its organizer, David Keene, stepped down as chairman of the American Conservative Union, a post he had held since 1984. Perhaps this reveals a schism in the conservative movement, between the old-school, libertarian, keep-government-out-of-my-way crowd and the authoritarian, put-government-into-your-bedroom types. Sarah Palin turned down CPAC’s offer to deliver their keynote address at the last minute, though her political action committee is sponsoring a reception there. And others such as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) wont attend due to the inclusion of gay groups. At the eleventh hour, CPAC has a keynote speaker, and it is Rep. Allen West (R-Florida), the newly-elected black Tea Party member of Congress from Floridas 22nd Congressional district. The selection speaks volumes about where the conservative movement and the GOP have gone off the deep end, that is. Some would call West crazy, perhaps even nuttier than your mamas pecan pie. And that’s not merely because he proudly sports a high-top fade in the second decade of the twenty-first century. One of Sarah Palin’s pick for Congress, Rep. West is a member of the Tea Party Caucus, which is chaired by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn). Bachmann, known for her outlandish, over-the-top statements, has accused President Obama of being “very anti-American”, and of setting up politically correct re-education camps for young people. In an odd pairing of affiliations, the Florida lawmaker is also the first black Republican to join the Congressional Black Caucus since 1996.
(Wall Street Journal) – House Republicans will use a stopgap spending bill coming to the floor next week as a vehicle to block money for the new health-care law, a top lawmaker said Tuesday. The latest push to neutralize the legislation, confirmed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, (R., Va.), comes on the heels of an earlier effort to repeal the law. That passed the House but fell short in the Senate. The spending bill, needed to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, is being drafted by the House Appropriations Committee, which is seeking deep spending cuts. The current stopgap bill expires March 4. While the initial version isn’t expected to include the health-law funding ban, Republicans plan to introduce it as an amendment to the bill, Mr. Cantor said. It is expected to block the use of money in the bill to carry out the law, for example by preventing the Department of Health and Human Services from hiring more workers to oversee the new benefits. The House Republicans’ strategy means President Barack Obama’s health-care initiative will be a major hurdle to passing the government-wide spending bill. Democratic leaders in the Senate are unlikely to back any move to defund the new law.
(Black Redding News Review) — Rep. Barbara Lee is calling for Congress to fund relief for the long-term unemployed, in reaction to last week’s unemployment numbers.”The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act, would ensure that these long-term unemployed workers get the long overdue assistance that they need to support their families, make ends meet and contribute to our economy,” said Lee. “Our bill would add 14 weeks of emergency unemployment benefits and would make sure these benefits are retroactively available to people who have exhausted all their benefits and are still unemployed.”
(USA Today) — Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving African American in Congress, says he’ll run for a 25th term. The Michigan lawmaker told The Detroit News that he’ll run again. “I’m not the retiring type,” said Conyers, 81. “If I wanted to retire, I could do that, too. I actually love my work.” Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, was first elected in 1964. He hasn’t had a tough re-election bid in years. But members of Conyers’ family have drawn headlines: His wife, Monica, is in prison on corruption charges, and the congressman recently reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for the time his son, John Conyers III, drove his government-leased Cadillac Escalade.
(Washington Post) — After it was all over – the bear hugs, the whispers, the somber theatricality – one question lingered about Charlie Rangel’s censure, and it was wider than Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem. How did the savvy old pol let this happen? How did one of the shrewdest operatives in the House of Representatives, a man who rose to become chairman of the most powerful committee, Ways and Means, an expert in tax law and spending procedures, a hero to black America, get caught chiseling on his taxes? How did he let himself become the latest example of ethical lapses in Congress?
(Washington Post) — House Speaker John Boehner will introduce a bill Wednesday that aims to revive a school voucher program in the District, nearly two years after Democratic opposition to the program led to its phaseout. Boehner (R-Ohio) is set to unveil the bill one day after President Barack Obama is expected to call for greater political comity in his State of the Union address. Boehner is presenting the bill as an opportunity for bipartisanship.
(Wall Street Journal) — Republicans in the House will press efforts to overturn the health-care overhaul this week in a vote that is largely symbolic but could kick-start substantive changes to provisions at the law’s core. Republicans in Congress have been picking up Democratic allies interested in swapping out parts of the law, including taxes levied on insurers, the creation of a long-term care insurance program and penalties for Americans who don’t carry insurance.
(NPR) — New Republican congressmen Allen West of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina have drawn plenty of attention as the first two GOP African Americans to fill House seats since Julius Caesar Watts Jr. of Oklahoma, better known by the initials J.C., left Congress in 2003. Not all the attention has been positive. West, for instance, had an early personnel misstep when he hired to his staff a conservative talk radio host who had called Speaker Nancy Pelosi “garbage.” The host stayed in radio. West, who won with Tea Party support, has indicated he’s inclined to join the Congressional Black Caucus; Scott has sounded less certain.