HONORING THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS DURING THE 115TH CONGRESS; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 208
(Extensions of Remarks - January 03, 2019)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1747-E1748]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




   HONORING THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS DURING THE 115TH CONGRESS

                                  _____
                                 

                        HON. CEDRIC L. RICHMOND

                              of louisiana

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, January 3, 2019

  Mr. RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the work of the 
Congressional Black Caucus during the 115th Congress.
  The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) spent the 115th Congress 
fighting against attempts to return this country to darker days by 
being fearless in telling our truth. Black Americans, who helped build 
the very Capitol in which we stand, are once again witnessing our own 
government set the wheels in motion to turn against us. This Congress, 
led by a group of people cozier with the one percent than with the 
forgotten man or woman, has worked with this Presidential 
administration to turn back the clock. The CBC has stood up for our 
values time and time again to say that we will not go back to those 
dark days. We have been unrelenting in standing against this tide and 
will not shy away from this battle.
  The CBC has worked tirelessly to infuse morality into the legislative 
debates during the 115th Congress and perform tireless oversight into 
the harmful policies of this Presidential administration. Since this 
President took office, he has led efforts to reverse substantive 
policies that have helped black Americans and failed to stem the tide 
of hatred and racism that made a strong resurgence during this divisive 
tenure. The lack of moral leadership has endangered disenfranchised 
communities and policy decisions have eroded critical economic, health 
and education programming. The Caucus has taken every opportunity to 
lift every voice to object to hurtful and immoral lawmaking while 
engaging the public in conversations about the stakes we were facing.
  The CBC had to fight for our values from the earliest days of this 
Congress, with an incoming President nominating a number of unqualified 
people to lead his cabinet agencies, including then Senator Jefferson 
Beauregard Sessions, who the President wanted to appoint to the 
Department of Justice. I represented the Caucus alongside my colleagues 
Senator Booker and living legend Representative John Lewis in speaking 
out against Sessions' lifetime of support for troubling policies that 
impeded the progress of black Americans.
  The President wasted no time in partnering with his allies in this 
Congress to advance an agenda that carried water for billionaires while 
ignoring the nation' s most vulnerable citizens. The Caucus once again 
reprised its role as the Conscience of the Congress by opposing this 
Congress and this White House as they worked in concert to attack 
vulnerable communities by neutering programming that served them.
  When the White House planned a national voter suppression and 
intimidation effort, the Congressional Black Caucus criticized the 
Administration's sham ``Voter Integrity Commission'' for seeking to 
solve a voter fraud issue that was clearly non-existent. In a few short 
weeks, the states themselves rose up against this effort and it 
mercifully perished due to a strong resistance against its undemocratic 
underpinnings. When the President demonstrated an uncomfortable 
coziness with Russian operatives the Caucus performed oversight. When 
the Department of Justice re-energized the war on drugs the Caucus 
stood firm in its opposition to restoring policies that unfairly 
targeted black citizens in law enforcement activity feeding an 
unsustainable mass incarceration machine. When the President asked the 
Caucus and black communities ``What the Hell do You Have to Lose'', the 
Caucus went to the White House with a 130 page policy document 
educating this President about issues facing black America. We provided 
dozens of policy options that a serious White House could have 
leveraged to improve the lives of Americans of all colors who face 
challenges. We haven't heard back.
  The CBC responded to the White House's immoral budget request with 
its own budget, infused with morality and justice. The Caucus' budget 
proposal invested in education, jobs and healthcare while asking the 
wealthiest among us to pay their fair share. The budget received strong 
support in a floor vote and we are going to continue to introduce 
spending plans that invest in the important things in this nation in a 
responsible fashion.
  The CBC stood up against the injustice sought by this Congress when 
it planned to cut taxes for billionaires while robbing health care from 
struggling families. This crisis of morality in Congress was compounded 
by an administration that was sabotaging affordable health care at 
every turn. Facing a moral crisis and the potential for enduring pain, 
the CBC called on everyone to think twice before hurting tens of 
millions of Americans. We raised our voices against the injustice of 
failing to invest in new jobs for hard working Americans while Congress 
handed corporate giants billions of dollars in tax breaks. All the 
while the President sought historic cuts to programs that seniors, 
children and families rely on to live. We have pointed out repeatedly 
that these morally bankrupt policies will also endanger the country, 
impairing future investments in our human capital and other important 
resources to all of our eventual detriment.
  The CBC has been actively fighting against a steady stream of 
increased hate crimes and public racism. When this President failed to 
condemn white supremacists and Nazis, the CBC called for racists to be 
purged from this White House, and within weeks, most of the most odious 
and hateful people around the President were gone. We also called for 
white supremacist figures to be purged from Congressional spaces and 
for Confederate symbols and statues to be removed. We have also 
continued to fight for a more fair criminal justice system that gives 
ex-offenders a second chance while holding wayward police departments 
accountable for unconstitutional policing practices. Our members have 
been on the front lines of pushing for deserving non-violent offenders 
to re-enter our community and for police departments to restore 
humanity to their interactions with our neighborhoods.
  When the FBI made up a new term to describe politically engaged black 
Americans, ``black identity extremists'', the Caucus spoke truth to 
power, meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand that the 
FBI provide more insights into the origins of this harmful term and 
explain how it might impact their investigations. We made it clear that 
we expected the FBI to not target Americans simply due to their 
physical characteristics and political views. This felt like a 
throwback to an earlier, darker period in our history, when the FBI 
surveilled black Americans it found objectionable. We told Director 
Wray that the CBC would not stand for a COINTELPRO 2.0 and that his 
investigations needed to be done absent the stain of a poorly worded 
term such as ``black identity extremist''. The Caucus also repeatedly 
stood up against inept and unqualified attorneys and jurists being 
offered up for lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary. Thanks 
in large part to the work of the Caucus, some of the most horrific 
institutional racists are not on the bench today. And this will stand 
as a testament to the work of the Caucus infusing morality into the 
deliberations of legislators in this Capitol.
  When African and Caribbean countries were disrespectfully referenced 
by being called ``shithole countries'' the Caucus called for those 
remarks to be censured. At the first state of the union, this Caucus 
stared the hateful policies in the face and showed the

[[Page E1748]]

world that we would not let a hurtful administration impose an ounce of 
fear upon us.
  In addition to performing robust oversight, this Caucus set out to 
introduce legislation that would protect vulnerable communities while 
investing in the future. Our members put significant work into 
addressing a host of issues that would improve outcomes for black 
families and for all Americans that yearn for better. The Caucus' 1300-
page bill, the Jobs and Justice Act of 2018, is a blueprint for serious 
legislators that want to bring change to this country in an inclusive 
way. I hope that the next Congress leverages the work this Caucus has 
done by implementing much of the bill in the important legislation that 
is to come.
  This Caucus also worked to hold corporate America accountable for 
ensuring that all of America was represented in its ranks and to ensure 
that their businesses were not being leveraged to harm communities of 
color. We called on the largest companies and investors in America to 
diversity their boards, c-suites and supply chains. We also called on 
powerful social media companies to invest in more diverse workforces to 
better identify attempts to weaponize platforms to inflame racial 
tensions. In addition, we called on technology companies to better 
address implicit bias in the development of new artificial intelligence 
tools to ensure that these new tools demonstrated more promise than 
peril.
  When the history books are written, this Congress will be cited as a 
failure. Instead of serving as a constitutional check and balance 
against a historically corrupt President with repressive instincts, 
this Republican led Congress enabled and emboldened an unqualified 
executive to run roughshod over civil liberties and the rights of 
underserved and struggling communities. It is no surprise that several 
members of this Caucus have been some of the earliest voices to examine 
whether the constitutional remedy of impeachment is an appropriate tool 
to address the dangers this President poses to our republic. This 
Congress has been an embarrassment and has failed American families 
time and time again.
  But like a phoenix rising, Americans have chosen a different 
direction. The House of Representatives will be under new leadership in 
just a few short days, ushering in a new era of oversight and morally 
infused legislating with members of the CBC in key positions to deliver 
better outcomes for Americans of all kinds from all races and from all 
parties. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are members of the 
human race who care for their fellow man and woman. We come from 
communities that have been long forgotten over the broad sweep of 
American history. These same communities have bred hope and promise 
during these same times. Our optimism and faith has never wavered, even 
at the darkest times. We have come this far by faith. And we have miles 
left to go before we sleep. The members of this Caucus will continue to 
lead in the debates that matter.
  It has been an honor to serve as the chairman of this incredible 
group of legislators. I pray that in our service, the 48 members of 
this bi-partisan, bi-cameral caucus have made our ancestors proud and 
our constituents eager to continue to work with us to advance the 
interests of all communities that seek to be led by men and women of 
conscience. We walk in the footsteps of our ancestors and have not yet 
completed the journeys that they started when they were first forced 
off overcrowded slave ships onto the shores of this nation. This has 
been an imperfect union, but it is one that is worth fighting to 
preserve.
  As I yield the chairmanship of the CBC to incoming chair Karen Bass 
of California, I wish her strength and resolve for the fights to come. 
I pray the Lord will guide her steps to continue the work of our 
ancestors and the work of the 13 Founders of the CBC, who came together 
in 1971 to raise their voices to confront the massive challenges that 
faced them at that time. Many of our challenges are the same though the 
times have changed around us. I know that Representative Bass will 
continue to lead this Caucus with intelligence, integrity and courage. 
I wish her well and I thank my colleagues for the opportunity to serve 
them as chairman.
  Mr. Speaker, I celebrate the Congressional Black Caucus during the 
115th Congress.

                          ____________________