Members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with President Barack Obama for the first time in more than two years and the lack of more frequent meetings didn’t come up, the group’s chairwoman said.
“I don’t have a concern,” Representative Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat, told reporters after the private White House meeting that lasted about one and one-half hours. “We will have broader and deeper discussions as a result of our meeting today.”
The 43-member group’s agenda included voting rights, education, implementing the Affordable Care Act, and a request for people from Africa and Caribbean nations to be included in pending immigration legislation.
It was the first meeting between Obama and the black caucus since the Supreme Court last month cut a core part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that opened the polls to millions of southern blacks. The top court on June 25 voided the voting-rights law’s formula for determining which states must get federal approval before changing their election rules.
Lawmakers said they are working with the Justice Department to find a way to revise the formula.
Representative James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, said lawmakers urged Obama to push to target more federal programs to “communities of need.”
Clyburn said a special formula used in the $831 billion economic stimulus program in 2009 should have wider application.
He said 10 percent of a program’s funds should be devoted to 20 percent of a community if it has been below the poverty level for the past 30 years. The rule should apply to programs including education, extension of broadband Internet services and rural water and sewer improvement programs, he said.
Obama was receptive to the idea, Clyburn said.
The meeting was a chance for Obama to renew ties with leaders of one of his most solid constituencies. African-American voters supported Obama with 95 percent of their votes in the 2008 election and 93 percent in 2012, according to New York Times exit polls.
The president plans to meet tomorrow with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss immigration, according to a statement from caucus chairman Representative Ruben Hinojosa, a Texas Democrat.
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