WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond and the rest of the Congressional Black Caucus expressed support for President Barack Obama without holding any grudges, despite a more than two-year gap in meetings with the nation’s first African-American president.
The president invited the 43-member caucus to the White House on Tuesday for a 90-minute private discussion, its first since May 2011, or 790 days as some critics had counted.
The caucus’ chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said the long wait didn’t come up during the meeting. “The lines of communication have not only been open but we will have broader and deeper discussion as a result of today,” said Fudge, who chairs the caucus.
Fudge had sharply criticized Obama earlier this year for a lack of diversity in his second-term Cabinet. But she said she thanked him Tuesday for nominating two black men to prominent posts — Anthony Foxx as transportation secretary and Mel Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Richmond, D-New Orleans, said the president gave “his commitment” to work violent crime prevention efforts in urban areas throughout the nation. “We’re going to have that conversation, and it’s important that it came from the White House,” Richmond said.
Richmond and other members of the caucus have expressed concerns that the immigration overhaul proposals, including the bill approved by the U.S. Senate, cut down on diversity visas to the U.S. from regions like Africa and the Caribbean in favor of increasing visa for more people with advanced academic degrees and other skills training.
Although it has been more than two years since the caucus has met with Obama, Richmond has spoken with the president on other occasions. In May, Richmond flew on Air Force One with the president to Morehouse College — Richmond’s alma mater — in Atlanta for Barack Obama’s commencement address.