Congressional Black Caucus gains one Republican member

Second Black Republican says he won’t join CBC

A front page story in MSR’s November 11 issue raised the question of whether or not two Black Republicans newly elected to the U.S. Congress would join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The 42-member group is currently all Democratic.

South Carolina’s first Black Republican congressman in over a century, Tim Scott, now says he won’t join the CBC. Throughout his campaign Scott downplayed his race, saying he has always lived in a world that was integrated. Opting not to join, Scott said, is “just consistent with who I’ve always been.”

He said there would be plenty of opportunities for him to make common cause with the CBC, despite the fact that he won’t be a member. “In the end the goal is still the same: moving America forward,” he explained.

The other Black Republican elected to the U.S. House in November, Allen West of Florida, has announced he will join the caucus. West says he wants to steer the group away from what he called failing liberal policies.

West now says he feels welcome in the CBC, even after it was unclear at first whether he would be able to join. West said he’d spoken with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the outgoing chairwoman of the CBC, during the freshman orientation in Washington, and that he’d had a “nice conversation” with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), Congress’s top-ranking Black Democrat.

West said he differed, though, with some of his CBC colleagues on the ethics charges facing Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). West would vote to censure Rangel, while many CBC members pushed for a more lenient punishment for the veteran Black lawmaker. His position on that might be indicative of the approach he’ll take in trying to challenge the “monolithic” voice in the CBC, the reason he has cited for joining the caucus.

— From various news releases