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It’s Not Gonna Be Business As Usual

POLITICO

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Black lawmakers are starting to agitate for more representation in House Democratic leadership, frustrated by the static makeup at the top of the caucus and the fact that only one African-American is included in those ranks.

Of the six top leadership positions — including chairman of the House Democratic campaign arm — only one is held by an African-American, Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn. Congressional Black Caucus members make up nearly a quarter of House Democrats.

In interviews with 15 members — nearly one-third of the CBC — several said it’s time for more than just one black lawmaker at the decision table. Many of them said they see a Democratic takeover of the House, which looks increasingly likely, as their best chance to make it happen.

“It’s not gonna be business as usual,” said Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). “I think that our caucus is large enough and strong enough that representation should be commensurate with what we bring to the total caucus.”

The behind-the-scenes jockeying is part of widespread shadowboxing in the Democratic Caucus as members — long frustrated by the lack of opportunities for advancement because of the leadership blockade — look for ways to grow their influence after the election.

Clyburn insists he has no plans — “yet” — beyond helping the party win back the House. But several members said he is considering a run for majority leader if Democrats regain the House. That would be one step up from his current No. 3 ranking and a move black lawmakers hope would open up a spot for another African-American member to join the top ranks.

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