The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has declined a proposed meeting with Donald Trump citing its conviction that the Republican president’s policies “will devastate black communities”, and the administration’s unresponsiveness to the CBC to date.
“Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your administration, we decline your invitation for all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with you. The CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under your administration. I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for,” the caucus said in a letter.
The caucus, which bills itself as the “conscience of the Congress” was founded in 1971 to represent black issues in US government, and has historically enjoyed the membership of virtually all black lawmakers. Of the 49 current members, 48 are Democrats.
Caucus chair Cedric Richmond noted in the letter eight times where the CBC had sent a letter outlining concerns to the Trump administration since 19 January, claiming that the body had not received a single substantive response back yet.
“We took advantage of every opportunity to educate you on the needs of the black community and provide you with the information and solutions necessary to act on them in good faith …
“We have seen no evidence that your administration acted on our calls for action, and we have in fact witnessed steps that will affirmatively hurt black communities,” the letter read.
Some of those steps include proposed budget cuts to Pell Grants, a form of federal student aid, and low-income economic programs like the Home Energy Assistance Program. The caucus also cites the administration’s commitment to redoubling the war on drugs, calling that strategy “willful ignorance” that will “render our communities less safe”.
The prospect of a Trump-CBC meeting briefly found itself in the national spotlight during a February press conference when reporter April Ryan asked Trump if he planned to include the CBC in conversations he will have about his “inner city” policies.
“Are they friends of yours? No, go ahead,” Trump said. “Set up the meeting,” Trump said to Ryan, a black woman.
Ryan calmly reminded the president that “no no no, I’m just a reporter”, and that setting up meetings for the president with legislators was not her job.
The letter closed by advising the president that “while you can solicit the engagement of individual members of our caucus, the CBC as a caucus declines you invitation to meet at this time.”
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