POLITICS
06/21/2017 04:59 pm ET

Black Caucus Declines Meeting With Trump, Says His Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The president's policies would "devastate the communities we represent," the group said.

The Congressional Black Caucus announced Wednesday that it would not accept President Donald Trump’s request for a follow-up meeting, citing concerns that such a gathering would not be helpful.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the CBC, said in a letter addressed to Trump that he and his colleagues had “seen no evidence that [the] Administration acted on our calls for action” after a previous meeting with the president. In fact, he added, the White House had taken steps that would “affirmatively hurt Black communities.”

“While we agreed to explore future possible discussions when we first met, it has become abundantly clear that a conversation with the entire CBC would not be entirely productive, given the actions taken by your Administration since our first meeting,” Richmond wrote. “While you can solicit the engagement of individual members of our caucus, the CBC as a caucus declines your invitation to meet at this time.”

CBC leaders last met with Trump in March, amid concerns from members that the president would try to use the session as a photo-op to boost his support among black Americans. The group’s six-member executive board presented the president with a 130-page policy document titled “A Lot to Lose” ― a reminder that Trump, during his campaign, had asked African-Americans “what the hell” they had to lose by voting for him.

In a letter earlier this month, the White House asked to schedule another meeting to “continue the discussion.” The CBC’s rejection was largely expected.

“No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” one senior Democratic aide told Politico in a report published earlier Wednesday.

In his letter, Richmond specifically called out a number of Trump’s actions and policy proposals, saying they served as proof that their concerns had fallen “on deaf ears.”

Richmond pointed to Trump’s budget proposal, which includes steep cuts to social safety net programs and Pell Grants, as well as calls for the elimination of low-income heating assistance. He also expressed alarm over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent move to reverse Obama-era sentencing reforms, which had pushed back against decades of aggressive drug war policies that fueled mass incarceration. Sessions, Richmond noted, has also appeared skeptical about the federal government’s involvement in police reform. And Trump’s Education Department has already strained its relationship with historically black colleges and universities, with a number of moves critics fear could lead to lost funding.

“These aforementioned policies alone will devastate Black communities, not to mention your effort to dismantle our nation’s health care system,” Richmond added. “The CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under your Administration. I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for.”

CONVERSATIONS