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WEB POSTED 12-24-2001

 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bush, White House snub Congressional Black Caucus

WASHINGTON (NNPA)—President Bush and his White House staff are apparently ignoring the Congressional Black Caucus and its chairwoman, who have sent four letters requesting meetings with him since Sept. 21.

“I am again writing you to request a meeting between you and the members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC),” said the most recent letter to Bush from CBC Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). “I am extremely disappointed that we have not heard any response from you, your Legislative Affairs Office or your Scheduling Office on when such a meeting will take place.”

The closely kept letter, dated Nov. 29, represents a new level of post Sept. 11 discourse from the Caucus, which has been relatively quiet since the early days after the terrorist attacks.

White House spokeswoman Mercedes Viana said she would check with the president’s scheduling staff before answering NNPA questions about the letters.

Chiding the president, Rep. Johnson wrote that she and the Caucus have sent three previous letters, two dated Sept. 21 and Oct. 12 from Rep. Johnson, and one dated Nov. 8 from the Caucus, all requesting meetings on various issues, including the U.S. policy towards Haiti, the war on terrorism, the economic stimulus package, unemployment and civil liberties.

The CBC has an upcoming meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, the second with him this year. But Mr. Bush hasn’t met with the CBC since shortly after his inauguration last January.

Rep. Johnson reminded Bush of his own words to reporters after that meeting: “This will be the beginning of, hopefully, a lot of meetings. I hope you come back, and I’ll certainly be inviting,” he said, calling it “an important part of my job ... to talk to everybody who is in the legislative body.”

But, much has changed since the early days of the Bush administration, when he was struggling to win support from Black people who had voted against him nine to one. Now, because of fear over terrorism, many Blacks have silenced public criticism and his general approval rating has soared above 85 percent.

Only days before Sept. 11, CBC members were lambasting the president for withdrawing the U. S. from the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. Shortly after the attacks, several CBC members, including Johnson, freely characterized anti-American sentiment abroad as a response to American arrogance.

Despite controversy, the CBC has consistently reached out to communicate as Johnson indicated in the latest letter, “Mr. President, the American people expect us to work together, and the Congressional Black Caucus is willing to work with this Administration.”

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