Tag: Senate

Record Number of African-Americans Running For Congress in 2014

mqdefaultWASHINGTON — A record number of African Americans are running for federal office this year, but their advances in elected office have been met by increased racial polarization in politics, particularly in the Deep South.

According to an analysis by David Bositis, an expert on African-American politics, there are 82 black nominees in the two major parties running in 2014, surpassing the 2012 record of 72 candidates.

Of the 82 candidates running, 64 are Democrats and 18 are Republicans, and all but three are seeking election to the U.S. House.

Two black Democrats, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Joyce Dickerson of South Carolina, and one black Republican, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, are on the ballot for U.S. Senate seats.

Among the candidates are four African-American women who are likely to be new additions to the U.S. House: Democrats Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, Alma Adams of North Carolina, and Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands, as well as Republican Mia Love of Utah, who would be the first black Republican woman elected to Congress.

Candidate Brenda Lawrence
Candidate Brenda Lawrence

Currently there are 44 African Americans serving in Congress, and their ranks are forecast to grow in November, which means next January will bring in a Congress with the highest number of blacks serving in U.S. history.

The growth of blacks in Congress has been most notable in the House Democratic Caucus. After the 2012 elections, House Democrats became the first congressional faction in history to be more than half women and minorities. The 2014 election slate suggests that trend will not reverse itself anytime soon.

White men continue to dominate the Republican Party, and white men make up the majority of Senate Democrats.

These milestones are not without downsides, Bositis notes. The nomination of black candidates, particularly in the Deep South, is driven in part by the massive exodus of whites from the Democratic Party ranks, which has fueled more racial polarization than harmony.

“I wish I could write with confidence that these increases in black major party nominees was a positive development, but the fact is that many of the increases are occurring in states (especially in the South) where most whites are withdrawing from Democratic party politics — leaving black candidates the nominations by default,” he wrote.

article by Susan Davis via usatoday.com

Senate Approves $1.15 Billion Settlement To Minority Farmers!

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Washington (CNN) — The U.S. Senate approved a $1.15 billion measure Friday to fund a settlement initially reached between the Agriculture Department and minority farmers more than a decade ago.  The 1997 Pigford v. Glickman case against the U.S. Agriculture Department was settled out of court 11 years ago. Under a federal judge’s terms dating to 1999, qualified farmers could receive $50,000 each to settle claims of racial bias.  “This is much long overdue justice for black farmers,” said John Boyd, founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association.

President Barack Obama issued a statement applauding the Senate’s decision and urging the House to follow-up on its efforts earlier this year, so he can sign the settlements into law. Officials are still working to resolve similar discrimination lawsuits filed against the U.S. Department of Agriculture by women and Latino farmers, according to Obama.  “While these legislative achievements reflect important progress, they also serve to remind us that much work remains to be done,” Obama said.  In another statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the settlements “a major milestone in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to turn the page on a sad chapter.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, also said the vote gives “long-suffering Americans … the closure that they deserve.”  “The agreement that we reached shows what can happen when Democrats and Republicans come together to do the right thing,” he said.  The measure was approved by unanimous consent.  The Senate also cleared — in the same piece of legislation — $3.4 billion to fund a separate settlement reached with the Department of Interior for mishandling of a trust fund managed for Native Americans. The bill also includes settlements for four water-right lawsuits filed by Native American tribes.

In July, the House approved a war supplemental bill that included money to pay for the settlements. At the time, however, the Senate failed to approve the measure.  Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, dropped an objection to the package this week after Senate leaders agreed not to finance it through additional deficit spending.  Prominent members of both parties have voiced support for paying out the settlements.  The measure will now have to be approved by the lame duck House before moving to Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

CNN’s Ted Barrett and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.