Black Dems tell Trump: ‘We have a lot to lose’
Black Democrats pressed President Trump on Wednesday to focus more intently on issues important to African Americans.
Huddling with Trump at the White House, the lawmakers delivered a rejoinder to the question of “what do you have to lose” that the president frequently asked black voters on the campaign trail.
Their response was clear.
“We have a lot to lose,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said following the meeting, which included Vice President Mike Pence Trump and Trump senior adviser Omarosa Manigault.
“In fact, we’re beginning to lose a lot already under his administration; the Republican repeal and replace bill, the proposed budget cuts, and the actions Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions is taking at DOJ are just a few of the many examples of that.”
There’s been no love lost between the Democrats and the new president, whose early moves on voting rights, immigration and Medicaid — combined with criticisms of former President Obama and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights hero — have outraged Democrats in general and CBC members in particular. That tone was evident in Richmond’s statement after the meeting.
“African Americans are offended by the divisive and destructive rhetoric we’ve seen from President Trump and his Administration and the policies and programs they’re promoting that hurt our communities,” he said.
Richmond’s office characterized the roughly hour-long meeting as “serious,” though the Democrats are also hopeful that Trump will ultimately prove open to some of the policies the CBC is promoting.
Toward that end, the CBC leaders used Wednesday’s meeting to deliver to the president a 130-page document outlining the CBC’s legislative priorities, a list that focuses heavily on voting rights protections, criminal justice reforms, expanding housing and education programs, and bolstering healthcare programs, particularly for low-income people.
“If this Administration is serious about creating a ‘New Deal for Black America,’ it has to support and strengthen programs that provide a pathway out of poverty, as well as programs that help Americans achieve the American Dream,” Richmond said.
The CBC chairman was joined by other CBC leaders — Reps. André Carson (D-Ind.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) — as well as Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the third-ranking Democrat in the House.
The White House said in a statement that the meeting addressed “the President’s commitment to improving conditions for distressed communities.”
“The President voiced his desire to work with the CBC to improve educational and economic opportunities, enhance public safety, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, and invest in infrastructure,” the White House readout said.
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