Black Caucus demands jobs programs, but still stresses support for Obama

The Congressional Black Caucus is asking President Barack Obama to direct money from an anticipated jobs bill to poverty-stricken communities.

The caucus stressed that it is not criticizing the nation's first black president and is not simply asking for money for African-Americans.

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"We're not talking about race. We're talking about the hardest hit," CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), said at a news conference attended by at least 17 CBC members.

Lee said that by directing 10 percent of the money toward areas where at least one-fifth of the population is at or below the federal poverty level, the bill would help many minorities, but also poor whites.

CBC members led a revolt last week in the Financial Services Committee that delayed consideration of Obama's financial regulatory overhaul. They said they were concerned that the administration wasn't doing enough to help African-Americans weather the stormy economy.

Lee said the move wasn't criticism of the president, but an attempt to ensure that African-Americans and their elected representatives are heard.

"The president is the president. It's our job and our responsibility to advocate for our constituents," Lee said.

CBC members supported the regulatory overhaul on the floor when it passed Friday 223-202. Asked if CBC members might withhold support of the jobs bill expected next week if it doesn't include their requests, Lee said it was "premature to even discuss."

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) took a somewhat more combative tone than Lee in the CBC-sponsored news conference in the Capitol.

"We are waking up to the fact that we are loyal and consistent members, but we are not paying enough attention to the misery in our communities," Waters said.