On Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) voted to reject an invitation to meet with President Donald Trump for a follow-up meeting.
— Black Caucus (@OfficialCBC) June 21, 2017
— Black Caucus (@OfficialCBC) June 21, 2017
“Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your Administration, we decline your invitation for 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with you,” the group wrote in a letter addressed to the commander-in-chief from CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA).
In his letter, Richmond said he failed “to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for.” He also suggested the administration’s policies were causing “legitimate alarm” among African-American lawmakers and was worrying their constituents. These included the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and proposed cuts to Pell Grants for low-income college students. Richmond claimed these cutbacks would “destroy minority communities, all while your Administration and Congressional Republicans consider proposals to provide tax cuts for the richest Americans.”
Richmond also said the caucus had expressed its concern to the president on several occasions and included the dates of seven letters and one document they sent to the administration and to which they failed to respond.
“No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” a senior Democratic aide reportedly told Politico in response to their receipt of an invitation last week from Omarosa Manigault, whom Politico described as “the-reality-TV-star-turned-White-House-aide who has pitched herself as an unofficial liaison to the CBC.”
According to that same report in Politico, “Multiple CBC members said they were put off that she signed the invitation as ‘the Honorable Omarosa Manigault,’ saying she hasn’t earned that title nor has she helped raise the profile of CBC issues within the White House as promised.”
However, members of the CBC are reportedly more concerned with the optics of meeting with Trump for what they believe could amount to nothing more than a photo-op without any tangible action to match words.
Politico also noted that back in March CBC members tried to avoid snapping a pic with Trump “for fear it would be used to make it look like they had thrown their support behind the president.”
The CBC’s March meeting was historic in that it was the first time the head of every Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the United States had been invited to meet with the president at the White House.
Last month, the CBC was upset by Trump’s questioning of the constitutionality of federal funding for historically black colleges and universities “on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender” when he signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus government spending bill (HR 244), also known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, into law.
He said his administration would treat government programs like the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program “in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the law under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”
At the time, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Cedric Richmond (D-LA), chairman of the CBC, issued a joint statement:
Trump’s statement is not only misinformed factually, it is not grounded in any serious constitutional analysis. For a president who pledged to reach out to African-Americans and other minorities, this statement is stunningly careless and divisive. We urge him to reconsider immediately.
However, Politico noted that “previous presidents, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush, often issued such statements when they signed legislation to signal they might ignore or disregard parts of laws passed by Congress.”
The statement that accompanied my signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, sets forth my intention to spend the funds it appropriates, including the funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), consistently with my responsibilities under the Constitution. It does not affect my unwavering support for HBCUs and their critical educational missions.
In February of this year, I signed an Executive Order pledging to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education; to ensure equitable opportunities for HBCUs to participate in Federal programs; and to increase the number of college-educated Americans who feel empowered and able to advance the common good at home and abroad.