Tag: U.S Congress

The Congressional Black Caucus Sworn in Today With More Than 50 Members – Largest in its History

CBC Members of the 116th Congress

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Congressional Black Caucus, for the first time in its 48-year history, has more than 50 members. At today’s swearing in ceremony the total was 55 members, nbcnews.com reports.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif, was elected CBC chair, and according to her website, the Caucus will also chair five full House Committees in addition to 28 House Subcommittees.

The caucus includes elected officials from both the House and Senate, and since its establishment in 1971, the CBC has been committed to using the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the federal government to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

As part of this commitment, the CBC has fought to address critical issues such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, equal access to quality education.

To learn more about the Congressional Black Caucus, go to: https://cbc.house.gov.

Lucy McBath Wins Georgia Congressional Race Against Karen Handel

U.S. Congress member Lucy McBath (photo via Getty Images)

by Astead W. Herndon via nytimes.com

Lucy McBath, the gun control and racial justice activist whose son was killed in a 2012 shooting, is now headed to Congress, after winning a razor-thin election decided Thursday morning.

Ms. McBath defeated the Republican incumbent Karen Handel, who only last year won a closely watched special election in the same Georgia district. Though Ms. Handel did not concede the race until Thursday morning, Ms. McBath, who is also a former Delta flight attendant, claimed victory in a statement released Wednesday. The Associated Press officially called the race for Ms. McBath on Thursday morning, with her lead at just under 3,000 votes.

“Six years ago I went from a Marietta mom to a mother on a mission,” she said, referencing her teenage son’s death. Jordan Davis, Ms. McBath’s son, was 17 when he was shot and killed by a white man at a gas station after refusing to turn down the volume of the rap music playing in his car. The man was later convicted of first-degree murder.

The win furthers the advantage in the House for Democrats, who could see more gains in several still-too-close-to-call races across the country. The district, once held by Newt Gingrich, was initially thought to have been out of reach for Democrats, but tightening polls in the campaign’s final weeks pushed the National Republican Campaign Committee, the House political arm, to run several new advertisements in the district in support of Ms. Handel.

“It is clear I came up a bit short Tuesday,” Ms. Handel said on Thursday morning. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.”

Ms. McBath was once thought to be a long-shot candidate even among members of her own party, and had even first planned to run for state or local office. Now, she will be the first nonwhite person to represent Georgia’s Sixth District, a section of the state overwhelmingly filled with white and affluent voters.

“At the end of the day, whatever you think about me; whatever happens or whatever I become in the future, I’ll still always be Jordan’s mom,” Ms. McBath said during a campaign event last month.

Her win defies conventional wisdom of how minority candidates must campaign in order to gain traction in districts predominately composed of white voters. While some had advised Ms. McBath to dilute the most explicit parts of her son’s murder, she believed it was integral to telling an authentic story about her life and experiences, she said.

During stump speeches on the trail, Ms. McBath would invoke the name of Trayvon Martin, the teenager killed in Florida whose death spurned legions of black activism. She also said, “I’m risking my son’s legacy for the people of this district.”

“What I’m doing today is still mothering his legacy,” Ms. McBath said last month. “I’m extending what I would do for my son to my community.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/us/politics/lucy-mcbath-georgia.html

Ayanna Pressley Upsets Incumbent in Primary; On Track to Become Massachusetts’ 1st Black Congresswoman

Ayanna Pressley, a Boston City Council member, celebrated her win in the Democratic primary at an election night party in Dorchester, Mass., on Tuesday. (Credit: Sarah Rice for The New York Times)

by Katharine Q. Seelye via nytimes.com

Ayanna Pressley upended the Massachusetts political order on Tuesday, scoring a stunning upset of 10-term Representative Michael Capuano and positioning herself to become the first African-American woman to represent the state in Congress.

Ms. Pressley’s triumph was in sync with a restless political climate that has fueled victories for underdogs, women and minorities elsewhere this election season, and it delivered another stark message to the Democratic establishment that newcomers on the insurgent left were unwilling to wait their turn. Ms. Pressley propelled her candidacy with urgency, arguing that in the age of Trump, “change can’t wait.”

Her victory carried echoes of the surprise win in June by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who trounced a longtime House incumbent, Joseph Crowley, in New York. Ms. Pressley is also among several African-American progressives who beat expectations, and in some cases performed far better than polling projections; they include Stacey Abrams of Georgia, Andrew Gillum of Florida and Ben Jealous of Maryland, who each won the Democratic Party’s nominations for governor.

There is no Republican on the November ballot in this storied Boston-based district, which was once represented by John F. Kennedy and is one of the most left leaning in the country. Addressing jubilant supporters at a union hall in Dorchester Tuesday night, Ms. Pressley said: “It seems like change is on the way.”

Speaking in abnormally hushed tones, in contrast to her fiery and impassioned style on the campaign trail, she told supporters “we have together ushered in something incredible.”

“People who feel seen and heard for the first time in their lives, a stakehold in democracy and a promise for our future,” she said. “That is the real victory, that is bigger than any electoral victory. And I want to thank you all for being foot soldiers in this movement and for ushering in this change.”

Mr. Capuano conceded with barely 13 percent of the votes counted, saying: “I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but this is life, and this is O.K. America’s going to be O.K. Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman, and I will tell you that Massachusetts will be well served.” Soon afterward, The Associated Press pronounced Ms. Pressley the winner.

Ms. Pressley, who in 2009 became the first black woman elected to the Boston City Council, overcame a powerful lineup of the Massachusetts political establishment. Mr. Capuano, 66, who has held the seat for 20 years, was endorsed by almost every major political figure, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, who deployed his extensive political machine on Tuesday on Mr. Capuano’s behalf.

“This is a big wake-up call to any incumbent on the ballot in November,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based Democratic strategist. “We’ve been in a change election cycle for years. But Trump may have opened the door for all these young candidates, women, people of color, because voters want the antithesis of him.”

Ms. Pressley’s win, the margin of victory, and the historic nature of her candidacy are sure to reverberate throughout Boston, a city whose fraught racial history is baked into its national reputation. Ms. Pressley said Democrats throughout the state discouraged her from running against Mr. Capuano, and John Lewis, the civil rights legend and longtime Georgia congressman, held a campaign event for him in May. Yet Ms. Pressley rode a strong turnout among Boston’s minority communities toward history.

Her slogan, “change can’t wait,” was a nod to those who said her candidacy was disrupting the traditional order of Boston politics, she said. It was also a rallying cry for the state’s only minority-majority district — to have a representative who mirrors the community’s diversity.

Political observers said the win was the biggest sign yet that a “new Boston” was emerging in the shadow of the city’s historically white, union-driven political establishment. This new electorate is powered by minorities, immigrants and young college students who have flocked to the city’s start-upsstartups and tech-friendly industries.

Only two of the state’s nine House members are women, and one is retiring. It was not until 2012 that Massachusetts elected its first woman — Elizabeth Warren — to the Senate. It has never elected a female governor.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/04/us/politics/ayanna-pressley-massachusetts.html

Astead Herndon contributed reporting

Documentary Film “Grabbing Back” Aims to Chronicle the Journeys of Black Women Running for U.S. Congress in 2018

Candidates Tamara Harris, Stephany Rose Spaulding and Tanzie Youngblood (photo via kickstarter.com)

by Lesa Lakin (@lesalakin)

Black women wanting to enact positive change is nothing new. But “Grabbing Back” is a particularly inspiring project given the recent uptick in African-American women’s political ambitions. Black women are showing up — exemplified when the nation witnessed the astounding turnout and overwhelming support of 98 percent of black female voters for Democrat Doug Jones, turning Alabama’s senate seat blue for the first time in twenty five years. Inspired by this historic move, filmmakers Pamela French, Shareen Anderson and Wendy Missan have turned their lens toward the powerful movement of African American women across the nation wanting to make a difference and a run for office.

This documentary is timely given the recently reported record number of black women running for office in Alabama and Stacey Abramshistoric Georgia Democratic Primary win for governor.

According to the Washington Post, nineteen black women hold seats in Congress, including one in the Senate. An additional two black women are non-voting delegates in the House. Three black women hold statewide offices, including lieutenant governors in Kentucky and New Jersey. And in 2017, voters in New Orleans and Charlotte made history by electing black women as mayor. A film chronicling the journey of African American women seeking office is certain to inspire.

“Grabbing Back” shadows Tanzie Youngblood, Tamara Harris and Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding, three determined first-time congressional candidates from New Jersey and Colorado. Youngblood, a retired schoolteacher and widow, was motivated, like many women running today, by the present-day political climate and Hillary Clinton’s defeat. “With what’s going on now, I have to get involved,” Youngblood said. “People say things need to be done. I’m actually doing something.” Since she got off the sidelines and announced her congressional bid for New Jersey’s 2nd District, Youngblood has gained some serious recognition both from her constituents and the media; Tanzie was one of the “Avengers” on the Time Magazine’s January 2018 cover story. And in a recent Newsweek article, Youngblood explains one of her biggest challenges is getting her own party’s support, “I’ve been very loyal to this party, but I don’t feel the loyalty back. They don’t see the value in a candidate like me,” Youngblood said.

Like Youngblood, Tamara Harris who is running in New Jersey’s 11th district, says she “became severely concerned for our democracy. What I realized was that if I didn’t step up…the foundations that underpin the advocacy that I care about so much would be under attack and greatly at risk.” Harris brings a tremendous wealth of attributes to her candidacy as a children’s and family advocate and former businesswoman with international finance experience.

Rev. Dr. Stephany Rose Spaulding sees her run for office as yet another call to service. As an educator, a person of faith, and an active member of the community, Spaulding hopes to genuinely represent and serve her constituency to bring inclusion, innovation, and a voice to each person in Colorado’s Congressional District 5. The electrifying International Women’s March drew huge numbers of people and convinced her CO5 deserves a new, fresh representative who will be responsive to the unique needs and concerns of the people.

In addition to the three main candidates, “Grabbing Back” will season the film series with three other formidable women also seeking a seat at the table: Navy Veteran Pam Keith from Florida’s 18th District; Councilor Ayanna Pressley (who was first elected to the Boston City Council in 2009 and is the first woman of color ever elected to the Council) and Shion Fenty, a Republican from Virginia’s 4th District. The filmmakers feel that the story wouldn’t be fairly told without crossing the aisle to include a Republican candidate. Shion believes, “The 4th District deserves a representative in Washington who will fight to empower our communities and our families to chart their own path in achieving the lives they’ve envisioned for their families. That is why I am running for Congress.”

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. – Shirley Chisholm

It is fitting and not lost on the filmmakers that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Shirley Chisholm’s election to the House in 1968 as an “Unbought and Unbossed” reformer from Brooklyn. She was the first black woman elected to the United States Congress and she represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1968 to 1983. In 1972, she announced her groundbreaking campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the first black woman to run for president for a major political party, Chisholm was making history. While her bid for the top job at the White House was short-lived, the symbolism of her run is as powerful today as it was then. She was a pioneer for her generation, a woman of many firsts: the first African American Congresswoman, the first African American to run for President, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

For more information about the project (and to see a great trailer for “Grabbing Back”) click here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/grabbingback/grabbing-back-a-feature-documentary-film

This is a meaningful and inspiring project. We are looking forward to seeing it.

11 Powerful Quotes From President Obama’s Final State Of The Union Address We Won’t Soon Forget

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 12, 2016 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo via telegraph.co.uk)
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on January 12, 2016 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo via telegraph.co.uk)

Tuesday night marked the last time President Barack Obama took the podium in the House Gallery to deliver a State of the Union address, and for many, he did not disappoint.

Setting a vision for America’s future, the president — in what was his shortest speech in two terms — put policy aside to focus on the gains the country has made in the economy, health care, and education in the past seven years.

But, harping back on his own time in the White House — one he obtained with a promise of bipartisanship and hope — the president took responsibility for the division between parties, saying “that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better.” That, the president said, “is one of the few regrets” of his time in office.

The rest of the president’s hour-long address remained upbeat, hopeful and full of change; no doubt a full circle moment for the Obama who ran the 2008 campaign.

Here, we gathered eleven statements made by the president last night that we won’t soon forget.

When he inserted himself in the upcoming presidential election by presenting four points for America’s future:

So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress. First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

When he addressed his GOP critics by stating the facts about the nation’s current position in the economy:

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.  We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.  More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s; an unemployment rate cut in half.  Our auto industry just had its best year ever.  Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years.  And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.

When he tackled both racism and politicians who perpetuate fear and discrimination without explicitly saying any names (we’re looking at you, Donald Trump):

When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

And then again when he said:

Our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

And this:

Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future…promising to restore past glory… We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness.”

When he set college affordability as a goal for America’s shining future:

And we have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.

When he called out climate change-deniers:

Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it.  You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.

When he discussed the government’s role in making sure the system is not rigged to protect the wealthiest Americans while ignoring those living in poverty:

I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.

When he, in what was an emotional moment for Vice President Joe Biden after losing his son to cancer, put his friend in charge of “mission control” for future cancer research:

Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.

When he told America to get more focused with foreign policy:

We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq — and we should have learned it by now.

And when he told Americans to believe, despite cynicism, that they can change this country and change the face of politics.

If we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a President. We have to change the system… It won’t be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word — voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.”

You can read the president’s full transcript, here.

article by Christina Coleman and Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Agreement, Avoids Another Shutdown

The Capital is mirrored in the Capital Reflecting Pool on Capitol Hill in Washington early Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has sent President Barack Obama a modest, bipartisan budget pact designed to avert another U.S. government shutdown and ease the harshest effects of automatic budget cuts.  Obama’s signature was assured on the measure, which lawmakers in both parties and at opposite ends of the Capitol said they hoped would curb budget brinkmanship and prevent more shutdowns in the near future.  The final vote on the measure was 64-36 in the Senate. The House approved the bill last week.

The product of intensive year-end talks, the measure met the short-term political needs of Republicans, Democrats and the White House.  As a result, there was no suspense about the outcome of the vote in the Senate — only about fallout in the 2014 elections and, more immediately, its impact on future congressional disputes over spending and the nation’s debt limit.

The measure will restore $45 billion, half the amount scheduled to be automatically cut from the 2014 operating budgets of the Pentagon and some domestic agencies, lifting them above $1 trillion. An additional $18 billion for 2015 would provide enough relief to essentially freeze spending at those levels for the year.  The budget deal marks a modest accomplishment for the divided and often dysfunctional Congress.

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