Over the last couple of weeks, tensions between the Congressional Black Caucus and the Obama administration boiled over, with ten CBC members on the financial services committee skipping a key vote on regulatory reform legislation and threatening to scuttle the reform bill altogether if the president didn’t take greater steps to addresses unemployment and home foreclosures in the African American community.
But it appears that Obama’s job speech yesterday did the trick. Earlier today, the CBC met to strategize over the bill, and according to the members I spoke with, they plan to vote for it when it comes to the floor later this week. “I think that the fact that he spoke about jobs and is willing to use TARP money [for small business loans] is a big step in the right direction,” Rep. Maxine Waters told me. “I’m looking at some of the proposals, none of them are detailed but they in essence talk about the general ways by which they think they can help home owners and small businesses and create jobs.” The CBC will be putting together their own job proposal to be released in the near future.
Waters was quick to point out that the CBC’s threats were largely to signal to the administration that the Blue Dogs are not the only coalition willing to throw down the gauntlet in order to get their issues addressed. “It wasn’t about the bill it was about the moment, it was a moment to get attention, and we showed that we could really start to leverage our power in ways we never had before,” Waters said. “The blue dogs have been very impressive in the way they’ve organized powers,” she continued. “Whether [we’re] in committee on the floor we’re just going to start using ours.” Representative William Lacy Clay, a Missouri Democrat, also suggested this wasn’t a one-time deal. “Let me make something clear to you,” he said, “The CBC is not a rubber stamp for the Democratic Party.”