President Obama has held his first meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus in more than two years, and caucus members said the 90-minute session Tuesday will lead to a closer relationship between the influential group and the president.
"The lines of communication have not only been open but we will have broader and deeper discussion as a result of today," Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chairwoman of the CBC, told reporters.
Fudge said much of the discussion with the president focused a Supreme Court ruling last month that voided a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. But there was apparently no agreement on how to restore the voided provision, which authorized a strong federal role to insure voting rights in states with a history of abuses.
The black legislators also urged Obama to make sure that any new immigration legislation helps African immigrants and isn't aimed only at Latinos.
"We want to be sure that the immigration bill, which they're saying is comprehensive, is in fact comprehensive," Fudge said. "And that includes people from the Caribbean and from Africa, which heretofore had been done by diversity visas. We want to be sure that the people we represent, those that come from under-served countries, poorer countries, are included in the bill."
In the past, black leaders have criticized Obama, the first African American president, for not coming up with an agenda specifically for black Americans. Obama has resisted doing that, arguing that his overall agenda is designed to help everyone, including African Americans. He apparently is still unwilling to come up with that "black agenda."
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Facebook and Twitter.