Emanuel Cleaver and the CBC's Relationship With the White House

The White House has an ally in the Congressional Black Caucus, leader says, but not a rubber stamp.

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Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post

By Krissah Thompson

Since becoming the incoming chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus this week, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) has stressed the need for the caucus to chart its own course.

Cleaver said he recognizes both the need to support President Obama and that the agendas of the black caucus and the White House sometimes conflict.

"The CBC has had disagreement with every president that has come to office since it was created," Cleaver said. "All of a sudden, it's like, 'Oh my goodness, black people are disagreeing with somebody black.' There is absolutely no way that we can function in a manner consistent with the wishes of our constituents and always be in lockstep with the president."

Even so, he said, Obama knows that he has an ally in the CBC. In a phone conversation with White House staffers this week, Cleaver began discussing ways the two groups can work together.

Cleaver, a minister from Kansas City, was unanimously selected by the 42-member caucus to take over leadership of the group from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

The caucus has spent the past year carefully navigating its relationship with the White House - seeking to press Obama to target more stimulus funds to the minority community, which has suffered from disproportionately high unemployment rates. The president declined, saying his efforts would help all Americans and "a rising tide lifts all boats."

Read the rest of this article at the Washington Post.

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