President Barack Obama met with the Congressional Black Caucus this week. While it’s a principled effort to address serious concerns and racial disparities in education, health care, employment and the criminal justice system, I question whether real progress can be made while a mean-spirited GOP-controlled Congress is poised to block Obama’s legislative agenda during his remaining two years in the White House.
The White House said Obama and the Caucus discussed a wide range of topics underscoring the need to build on the legislative gains accomplished over the past six years and they agreed that there is still more work to be done together.
Here’s how the White House framed the meeting: The President expressed that while we have seen continued economic progress, there is more work to do to help ensure that all Americans share in the benefits of our growth. He expressed shared concern with the CBC regarding the unemployment rate among African Americans and reaffirmed his commitment to support and create policies that will help all hardworking families make ends meet, while boosting America’s productivity and giving workers the tools they need to secure the good jobs of the future.
The President also underscored the need to continue to work with Congress to reform the criminal justice system and the critical need to build trust between communities and law enforcement officials and highlighted the work he and his Administration are doing on this important issue.
So here’s the part that gave me pause: Working with Congress. How can Obama and the Congressional Black Caucus work with a Congress that is completely unwilling to work with them? The goal for the Republican Congress is to set up roadblocks so Obama’s legislative agenda is never realized. Obama knows it and Black legislators know it.
Republicans plan to cut spending for a myriad of social programs, education grants and student loan initiatives that have benefitted African-Americans for years. Sadly for the next two years, , there will be partisan bickering and gridlock of historic proportions. The divide between Democrats and Republicans couldn’t be more apparent. The Congressional Black Caucus said education is one of their top priorities, especially as it pertains to the country’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).