Congressional Black Caucus members finally meet with Obama
ATLANTA (CNN) — In their first meeting in more than two years, President Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus had voting rights, the economy and immigration reform at the top of the agenda.
The president sat down with one of his most important constituencies on the White House grounds for an hour and a half, according to participants.
"The lines of communication have not only been open but we will have broader and deeper discussion as a result of today," said Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who chairs the caucus.
Fudge told reporters the Supreme Court's June decision on voting rights topped the discussion. Last month, the high court ruled that key parts of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of voter discrimination to get approval from the federal government before making changes in their voter laws were no longer valid.
"We talked about other ways to determine a formula as opposed to doing it by states," said Fudge and she said the caucus will also be working with the Justice Department as it continues to work on the issue.
The economy and high unemployment in the African American community was also on the table.
President Obama has been criticized in the past by some black leaders for not doing enough to ease high unemployment especially among African Americans.
A formula to target federal funds to specific communities to ease problems like high unemployment was discussed according to Rep. James Clyburn, D- South Carolina.
"[W]e put a formula in the rural development section of that called 10-20-30 to target funds into those areas ... where 20% of the people have been stuck below the poverty level for the last 30 years." said Clyburn.
"It can be education. It can be broadband deployment. It can be water and sewage development. Whatever you are doing to improve communities making sure it gets to communities of need. And it creates jobs dramatically."
As the president continues to press Congress for passage of comprehensive immigration reform, CBC members also pressed the president to make sure that immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa are included in the reforms.
"We want to be sure that the people we represent, those that come from underserved countries, poorer countries are included in the bill," Fudge said.
Members said a follow-up White House meeting has not been planned.