Rep. Rangel denies Black Caucus was told to be quiet on Syria

A top member of the Congressional Black Caucus is denying that lawmakers were told to stay silent on the issue of whether or not the U.S. should intervene in Syria.


“Nobody’s ever suggested to me ... that I should not comment,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said in an interview on MSNBC on Saturday.

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He added that he had a “responsibility to speak.”


Rangel’s comments were in response to an email from caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), which asked lawmakers to “limit public comment on the issue.” 

“No, I think that the press is misinterpreting this as it relates to the Black Caucus,” Rangel said.

The Black Caucus has been stuck in a tricky spot on the question of Syria. Many of its members have expressed twin desires to both avoid another military encounter while also supporting President Obama.

Rangel said in the interview that he has a constitutional obligation to listen to the people in his district.

Though he respects previous presidents, "all of them collectively couldn’t add up to the admiration that I have for President Obama. But by the same token, Obama didn’t get me elected. My constituents did."

Rangel has been wary of the country’s involvement in Syria, though he said he would be watching Obama's address to the nation.

“Maybe we’ll see what happens on Tuesday,” he said. “I can’t imagine him saying anything that I don’t believe that he means. The only problem I have with the president is [the assertion] that this is a threat only to our national security and we should go it alone.”