By Silla Brush - 12/03/09 01:41 AM EST
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members on Wednesday criticized the Obama administration for not doing enough to help African-Americans through the bleak economy.
Soon after withholding their votes on a wide-ranging financial services bill, 10 CBC members said they are pressuring the White House to do more.
“We have not been forceful enough in our efforts to protect the most vulnerable of our population,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who represents one of the nation’s poorest districts. “We can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”
The committee vote came shortly after White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was seen leaving the panel’s private staff room.
The lawmakers did not say for sure whether they would withhold their votes when the full House takes up financial overhaul legislation at the end of next week.
The CBC concerns first mounted nearly two weeks ago when the 10 members threatened to withhold their votes on the same bill. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) postponed a vote on the bill at that point.
Waters said on Wednesday that the CBC is meeting with the heads of the nation’s financial regulatory agencies on foreclosure and lending issues. She emphasized members were lining up meetings with President Barack Obama’s advisers to exert their power.
“I think we have got to get his people educated and moving,” Waters said.
The Black Caucus is also working on a proposal to create jobs that it hopes will become part of an effort under discussion among House leaders to bolster the economy.
The CBC efforts underscore the deep anxiety lawmakers have as they face an economy witnessing the highest national unemployment rate in a generation. The unemployment rate for African-Americans is 15.7 percent, compared to the national rate of 10.2 percent.
The CBC members laid out a series of policies they would like to see enacted: efforts to reduce foreclosures, including through principal write-downs; better access to credit for African-American-owned auto dealerships; more aid to small and community banks that lend to African-Americans; and more federal money going to support ad buys in minority radio stations and newspapers.
The 10 Democratic members include: Waters, Mel Watt (N.C.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Lacy Clay (Mo.), David Scott (Ga.), Al Green (Texas), Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Keith Ellison (Minn.) and André Carson (Ind.).
Jen Psaki, White House spokeswoman, said the administration shares the concerns raised by the CBC members.
“We have not been informed of the reasoning behind their decision not to vote on the bill, but we continue to think it is important to move financial reform forward to prevent future crises from damaging our economy and disrupting the lives of millions of Americans, including African-Americans,” Psaki said in a statement.