Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Some CBC members reportedly refuse to meet with companies because of concerns about diversity

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are urging the lobbying industry to diversify its Washington DC offices or risk losing their support.

The Caucus, which is made up of most black elected members of Congress, seeks to put pressure on lobbyists and advocacy groups associated with K Street, Politics reports.

K Street, a major traffic artery in DC, refers to the large lobby companies and special interest groups that are a key influence on politicians.

“We choose not to have any meetings with people who do not have African-American or Latino lobbyists,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) Told Politics. “You have to be far out of it if you go to a meeting repeatedly with people of color and you keep bringing three white men from Yale. It’s just no.”

Rep.  Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) makes brief remarks after he and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) settled their friendly bets on the Super Bowl in the Speaker's ceremonial office at the US Capitol on February 11, 2020 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) makes brief remarks after he and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) settled their friendly bets on the Super Bowl in the Speaker’s ceremonial office at the US Capitol on February 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Cleaver noted that a majority of CBCs agree “not to meet with them,” but a formal vote has not yet been taken, according to the report.

More than 50 members represent the Congressional Black Caucus in the Democratic Party, and “hiring lobbyists with connections to members of the caucus has become an increasingly integral part of a company’s competitive strategy.” Politics writes.

“If you need to hire someone to lobby the CBC or the CHC or the Asian Pacific Caucus or something like that, well, absolutely, I think it makes one hundred percent sense for you to hire someone who represents that community,” he said. Ivan Zapien, a Latin American practice manager for government relations at the law firm Hogan Lovells.

According to the report, colored lobbyists are few and far between on K Street, where many firms have their offices.

US Capitol in Washington

The US Capitol airs on June 5, 2003 in Washington, DC. Both houses of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives meet in the Capitol. (Photo: Stefan Zaklin / Getty Images)

“I think the CBC is just kind of, they’re losing their patience because we’ve been talking about this for decades,” he said. Monica Mandel, co-founder of the Diversity in Government Relations Coalition.

Black lawmakers have for years warned K Street firms to take their frustration with the racial composition of the staff of their officers seriously.

“We would say to them, ‘if this is your philosophy, you can not come to my office,'” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) said. “Because you have to, if you have to represent your client and come to an African American, and your workforce is completely white, it is dishonest for the client you represent.”

Some CBC members reportedly refuse to meet with companies because of concerns about diversity.

“Now it’s widespread. I know it’s not all, but it’s growing,” Cleaver said. “Why should we meet with you, you show what you think about inclusion.”

Most recently, CBC reigned victorious after the House passage of the $ 1.75 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as part of President Joe Biden‘s larger Build Back Better frame.

The plan, which is the largest law on public works since Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System in 1956, includes significant funds for the repair of roads, bridges, tunnels and transit, as well as the reconstruction of some airports. It also includes increased funding for HBCUs, increased child tax deductions, affordable housing, an expansion to Medicare and more – all of which were key priorities for the congressional group.

The adoption of the bill partially fulfilled the promises Biden made to the black community during his presidential election, and was a welcome development after the lack of progress on voting rights and police reform issues.

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The post that black lawmakers are pushing lobbyist groups in Washington DC to diversify the ranks first appeared on TheGrio.

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