Washington Report

Dispatches from Capitol Hill

CBC Plays Political Hardball and Scores

cbc-logo2The 10 Congressional Black Caucus members who sit on the House Financial Services Committee made headlines last week when they boycotted two important votes. To their dismay, several stories darkly hinted of a brewing feud between the CBC and President Barack Obama. But it’s not personal, they say, just politics.

It paid off, too. Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank of Massachusetts agreed to include two amendments proposed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that would commit $3 billion from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to assist unemployed homeowners so they can stay in their homes. An additional $1 billion would fund grants to city and county governments for neighborhood revitalization projects.

The committee also has adopted an amendment that would establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the seven financial regulatory agencies. Another Waters amendment calls for five additional board members to serve on the Consumer Financial Protection Oversight Board with the seven regulatory agency heads. It’s worded, she says, to ensure that they would be picked from organizations that represent the voices of minority consumers.

“We got a lot in this bill,” said a beaming Waters. “We demonstrated 10 votes on the committee is an extremely powerful bloc and some of this may carry over to the floor where we might organize all 42 [CBC members] on some issues.”

Waters has said more than once that the CBC has taken too long to begin flexing its muscle. “Now that we have this power, I don’t think leadership will negotiate only with Blue Dogs; they’ll have to negotiate with us, too.”

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