Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland) and several fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation converged on the White House Wednesday, March 22 for an hourlong sit-down with President Donald Trump to discuss education, criminal justice reform and other topics that affect the black community.
Brown, who joined CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) and five other members of the caucus, told The Informer they discussed concerns about Trump’s travel ban and proposed budget to cut Pell Grants and the creation of minority businesses.
Brown said the meeting also focused on Trump’s accusations that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had wiretapped Trump’s New York City offices before the November election.
“If the president is attempting to build relationships in the African-American community, then that is not helpful,” he said. “We sort of left it at that.”
The CBC members presented Trump with a document titled “We Have a Lot to Lose: Solutions to Advance Black Families in the 21st Century.”
The title is a reference to Trump’s courting of the black vote while on the campaign trail, when he often claimed the African-American community was in such disarray that they had little to lose by voting for him.
The 128-page document gives a synopsis of black history with ideas to improve voting rights, education, health care and other items.
The suggested solutions include:
• Restore the voting rights of ex-offenders;
• End racial profiling;
• Raise the federal minimum wage currently set at $7.25 per hour; and
• Expand Medicaid and keep the Affordable Care Act intact.
“We call on the Trump administration to commit to basic principles of humanity and decency, mainly that every child should have access to a high-quality education and every life deserves affordable, quality health care,” the report states. “If President Trump is sincere in his interest in advancing the Black community, this document should be the guiding post of his administration.”
Brown said no specific timetable was established for when to reconvene with Trump or for any response to the CBC document. However, Brown said the CBC will meet “regularly” with Trump and such Cabinet members as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Meanwhile, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III visited Capitol Hill Friday to meet with Brown and other members of the Maryland delegation to ensure federal programs and dollars aren’t cut.
Some of the main items: relocation of the FBI headquarters, the Affordable Care Act and the Community Development Block Grant program.
Baker said in an interview Friday the $2.1 billion Purple Line light-rail project in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties won’t happen without the federal government’s portion of $900 million.
“The Purple Line would help us with mass transit … and it’s good for economic development and it’s good for creating jobs,” he said. “For President Trump to tout he is going to create jobs, this is a job-killer when you get rid of the Purple Line. It can’t move forward without federal funds.”