05-21-2018  5:54 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

3 high school seniors die in crash weeks before graduation

YONCALLA, Ore. (AP) — School officials say three senior girls were killed in a car crash on Interstate 5 in western Oregon, just weeks before graduation.Eagle Point High School said on its Facebook page that Luciana Tellez, Giselle Montano and Esmeralda Nava died Saturday night after their...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

Cyclists tried to scare cougar but it attacked, killing 1

SEATTLE (AP) — The two mountain bikers did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them on a trail east of Seattle.They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even smacked the cougar with his bike, and...

The Latest: Cougar that attacked cyclists was underweight

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on a cougar attack that killed one mountain biker and wounded another outside Seattle (all times local):4:10 p.m.Authorities say the cougar that attacked two cyclists east of Seattle, killing one of them, appears to have been emaciated.Washington Department of Fish...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Native American lacrosse teams leagueless in South Dakota

Travis Brave Heart was planning to spend his senior season this spring and summer tuning up to play college lacrosse in the fall. Instead, the 17-year-old standout from Aberdeen, South Dakota, is faced with the prospect of not playing at all.His Lightning Stick Society team was one of three Native...

2018 midterms show start of Democratic scramble for 2020

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie...

Black women look to flex power in Georgia governor's race

ATLANTA (AP) — This week's primary election in Georgia presents black women voters with a rare opportunity: To give a Democrat who looks like them a chance at occupying the governor's mansion in a Republican-controlled state.A Democratic primary win Tuesday for Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans...

ENTERTAINMENT

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the Avengers.Fox's "Deadpool 2" brought in 5 million this weekend, giving it the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie and ending the three-week reign of Disney's "Avengers:...

Winners in the top categories at Billboard Music Awards

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A list of winners in the top categories at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards, held Sunday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.— Top Hot 100 song: "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber— Top Billboard 200 album: "DAMN." by...

The Latest: Janet Jackson honored at Billboard Awards

The Latest on the Billboard Music Awards (all times local):7:18 p.m.The youngest of the legendary Jackson musical family, Janet Jackson gave her first televised performance in nine years at the Billboard Music Awards.She was honored as the first black woman to receive the Billboard Icon Award on...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

School victims honored at Billboard Awards; Janet, BTS shine

The 2018 Billboard Music Awards paid tribute to the students and teachers affected by recent deadly shootings in...

Economic talks between US and China lead to trade war truce

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China are pulling back from the brink of a trade war after the...

In North Korea nuke site closure, spectacle trumps substance

TOKYO (AP) — Foreign journalists will be allowed to journey deep into the mountains of North Korea this...

Syrian government captures most of IS-held area in Damascus

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces on Monday captured most of a key neighborhood in southern Damascus...

LGBT community cheers pope's 'God made you like this' remark

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis' reported comments to a gay man that "God made you like this" have been...

Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — A nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro, the rural northwestern town where the...

Lauren Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Columnist

Even though the next Congress, which starts on January 6, will feature 48 African Americans, the largest number in history, the question is: Can they get anything done in a Congress that’s been gridlocked for four straight years?

But since most Black members will serve as members of the minority party in the House, most of their power to control federal policy and billions of dollars will be decided by compromise as they serve on major committees.  Though members of the Congressional Black Caucus will not control the policy agenda, they will still play a key role in those decisions.

For the first time in history, seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus will serve as Ranking Members of major House Committees for the upcoming 114th Congress.  Why does this matter? Because even a member in the minority in the hyper-partisan House, which has been controlled by Republicans since 2010, is going to have a seat at the table.

Much of what is done behind the scene goes unreported by press corps fixated on the political cat fight of the moment. And in the case of the CBC, the Black Press is the only place where their work is likely to be covered.

November 19, was one of the biggest days for the Caucus since four Black Committee Chairman were christened in January 2009.

Seven Black members of the House – Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) will have a seat at the legislative table next year as ranking committee members.

Additionally, two of the most powerful members of the Black Caucus, Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.), are ranking members on subcommittees on the most powerful committee in the House: Appropriations.  From those positions they will have a say in doling out several hundred billion dollars every fiscal year.

“Politics is about who gets what when and how and being at the table is essential to determining that those resources get where they need to be,” Rep. Bishop told the The Root in an interview.

“It is my hope that we are able to use the appropriations process and the policy making process here in Congress in a bipartisan way that will benefit all the American people,” Bishop said in the interview.

In an effort to show they can actually govern, Republicans in the 114th Congress are expected to pass legislation rather than repeat another four years of their core strategy: Gridlock.  The last two years witnessed the least productive U.S. House in history in terms of bills passed, all under Republican control.

Even with the well-publicized gridlock over the last four years, Rep. Fattah was able to get the Urban Jobs Act through the House after a compromise was reached with House Republicans.  The bill’s passage, which was a rare example of bipartisanship, received almost no press.

The gridlock strategy was employed by House Republicans in hopes of preventing President Obama from getting anything done.  But going into the 2016 presidential campaign, Republicans are expected to show they can produce actual legislative results in what would be a huge strategic change.

As part of its normal process, the Congressional Black Caucus elected a new Chairman yesterday, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). Though he plans to outline a detailed strategy for the Caucus in January, he spoke in general terms about the policy focus he’ll have next Congress.

“The economy is not working for African Americans.  Some are succeeding, but the vast majority of African Americans are not succeeding. It’s our job as legislators to try and enact policies that will enact policies that will move the needle – whether it’s with a coalition of Democrats or Republicans,” Butterfield told The Root.

The new chairman will inherit the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history at a time when presidential politics will play a big role in the narrative.  Whether he and the Black Caucus can navigate the games of gridlock will depend on how afraid Republicans are of being tagged as the “party of no” as their presidential candidates tour the country.

Chances are those politics will be the real reason the GOP will suddenly be interested in moving legislation during President Obama’s last two years in office.

Lauren Victoria Burke is freelance writer and creator of the blog Crewof42.com, which covers African American members of Congress. She Burke appears regularly on “NewsOneNow with Roland Martin” and on WHUR FM, 900 AM WURD. She worked previously at USA Today and ABC News. She can be reached through her website, laurenvictoriaburke.com, or Twitter @Crewof42 or by e-mail at LBurke007@gmail.com.

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