Obama Seeks to Mend Fences With Congressional Black Caucus

The president will meet with key electoral constituency.

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President Obama's scheduled meeting with African-American members of Congress Tuesday is designed to reconnect him with leaders of one of his most important constituencies.

Obama, the first African-American president, plans to discuss the economy, jobs, voting rights, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, immigration and other issues important to the black community and the nation, a White House spokesman said.

It will be the first meeting between Obama and the black caucus since the Supreme Court last month voided a key provision of the voting rights law, which upset many black members of Congress.

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In fact, it will be the first meeting between the president and the entire Congressional Black Caucus since May 2011.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden leave the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 8, 2013, after the president outlined his vision for better government services delivered at lower taxpayer expense.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden leave the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 8, 2013, after the president outlined his vision for better government services delivered at lower taxpayer expense.

All 43 members of the black caucus are expected to attend.

Obama enjoys stratospheric support among African-American voters, who backed him overwhelmingly in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. But he has faced criticism from some black leaders and activists who argue that he hasn't done enough to help African-Americans weather economic hard times and overcome lingering prejudice in American society.

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Obama has resisted calls to formulate an agenda specifically for the black community, saying his overall agenda is designed to benefit everyone. But senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told black journalists earlier this year: "If you look at the president's record in the first four years, if you look at his major domestic policy accomplishments, they disproportionately do benefit the African-American community."

The Florida Courier also reported that Jarrett said, "If you look at the Affordable Care Act, roughly 9 million African-Americans uninsured will have health insurance today. If you look at the president's Recovery Act and subsequent budgets...If you went through the menu of tax incentives and unemployment [benefits] that disproportionately benefit the African-American community time and time again. I think unemployment insurance has been extended like nine times; every single time we had to fight the Republicans to get that done."

 

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  • 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 kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.