Congressional Black Caucus grows in size and clout after blue wave
The Congressional Black Caucus is growing in influence and numbers.
Two African Americans – Reps. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and James Clyburn of South Carolina – were elected chair of the Democratic Caucus and majority whip respectively, making it the first time in history more than one black lawmaker will hold top leadership positions in Congress at the same time.
“When the Congressional Black Caucus was founded in 1971, I know our 13 founding members dreamed of the day when we would have more than one member in our ranks competing for top leadership positions in Congress,” outgoing CBC Chair Cedric Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana said. “Today was that day, and I know they are proud.”
The 116th Congress, which will be sworn in next month with a Democratic majority, includes a record 55 CBC members, including two in top leadership positions and five who will chair full House committees. The CBC has 48 members in the current Congress, all but one of them Democrats, making it the largest legislative caucus.
Caucus members who’ll chair House committees include Elijah Cummings (Oversight); Maxine Waters (Financial Services); Bennie Thompson (Homeland Security); Bobby Scott (Education and the Workforce) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (Science, Space and Technology).
Clyburn, the assistant Democratic leader, is the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the party’s caucus, and one of the most prominent black lawmakers in the lower chamber.
“There are few Democrats who have done more than Assistant Democratic Leader Clyburn to mentor young members of Congress and make sure that Democrats win elections,” Richmond said.
The caucus will also have a new chair in Karen Bass of California, making her the CBC’s 26th leader and the eighth woman to hold the gavel. Joyce Beatty of Ohio was elected CBC vice chair.
“I couldn’t be happier to call Congresswoman Karen Bass the next chair of the Congressional Black Caucus,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said. “From fighting for criminal justice reform and child welfare to affordable health care and a stronger economy for all, Karen has devoted her life to serving California families and African American communities across the country. Karen is a proven leader who never backs down and always stands up for the values of inclusion and opportunity for all.”
Said Richmond: “From her days in the California General Assembly where she became the first African American woman in U.S. history to lead a state legislative body, to her work in Congress to address both domestic and international issues affecting people of African descent, Congresswoman Bass has demonstrated tried and true leadership. … There’s much work to be done next Congress to ensure equality and justice for African Americans and other marginalized communities, and I am confident Congresswoman Bass will continue to provide strong leadership in this regard.”
“I am honored to be elected by my peers as vice-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus,” Beatty said. “As the ‘Conscience of Congress’—and the largest, most powerful House Caucus—the Congressional Black Caucus will work to ensure that all Americans are heard and represented. I look forward to helping lead the Congressional Black Caucus in the 116th Congress as we undertake our new majority mandate to lead the nation.”