Apparently the CBC is upset about Republican filibusters of President Barack Obama’s nominees, which several black lawmakers said they believe are motivated in part by race.
CBC members are still reeling from the three-week-old stalled nomination of their colleague, Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency — and are also raw from Monday’s filibuster of an African-American judge, Robert L. Wilkins, to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Though Republicans insist the filibusters are tied to legitimate concerns about the need for additional judges on the D.C. Circuit, or, in the case of Watt, on his qualifications for the job, CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge on Monday suggested that race and other factors were at play, citing the number of minorities and women who have been filibustered.
And other black lawmakers insisted Tuesday that race is a factor.
“It’s not the controlling point but it’s a factor, no question about it,” Butterfield said. “The fact is, no sitting member of Congress in 150 years has been denied an up-or-down vote on a confirmation. Race has got to be a factor here.”
“It goes without saying,” added Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., another senior member of the CBC. He called Republicans the descendants of Confederates.
“No one makes a big deal of it, but if you’re a fly on the wall in any of their homes — I’ll tell you what: If you track the Confederate Army to the Dixiecrats, to the conversation of the Republicans, to the districts that were affected, you may be dealing with different labels, but if they were ever able to track down their ancestors, there’s a Confederate general in every damn living room.”Just to put things in perspective, Rangel also said his congressional ethics trial was based on racism instead of:
- He admitted a failure to report $75 thousand in taxes on a vacation property
- He was discovered taking a tax break for people whose primary residence was in Washington DC, but if his primary residence was in DC he couldn't be congressman representing NYC. And besides, he was occupying four rent controlled controlled apartments in New York, the rule is you don't qualify for rent control unless the apartment is your primary residence. That is why he got in trouble for using one of the apartments as his office.
- He misused his congressional office to fund raise for his private Rangel Center by preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for funding
- Then there was the investigation of the NY Congressman, revolving around a Caribbean boondoggle.
- Once the ethics investigation began Rangel gave campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are charged with investigating him
Following the Wilkins filibuster, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., chairwoman of the CBC’s Judicial Nominations Working Group, released a statement saying she would “lead a strategy discussion at the CBC meeting on Wednesday on moving African American judicial nominees through the Senate.”This is just silly. I would imagine if one could ask one of these people for the truth "off the record" they would admit the charge was simply political nonsense. The Republicans are blocking nominees based on their politics, the same reasons why the Democrats blocked the nominees of George Bush.
One tactic could be an extrapolation of what CBC members are already doing: attack Republican obstruction of Obama’s nominees — particularly African-Americans. That could boost turnout from a critical Democratic voting bloc in 2014 and undercut the GOP’s “big tent” rebranding efforts.
“One of the severe impacts of [the filibusters], and in large part you see this in the Judiciary, is that the Obama administration has been working tirelessly to diversify the bench, and that means women and people of color on the bench,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group that tracks judicial nominations. “I think regardless of the motivation, it’s having a disproportionate effect on minorities and people of color, and that’s something to be upset about, and I do think it’s going to have an impact in 2014.”