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Black lawmakers to confront Trump on policies in meeting


    In January, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La. spoke during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Congressional Black Caucus plans to push Trump on the changing priorities of the Justice Department’s monitoring of police departments and cuts in education funding for college students in their Oval Office meeting.

WASHINGTON >> The Congressional Black Caucus plans to push President Donald Trump on the changing priorities of the Justice Department’s monitoring of police departments and cuts in education funding for college students.

The Congressional Black Caucus’ leadership will meet with Trump on Wednesday at the White House, and chairman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana said they plan to press Trump on several areas of interest to African-American voters. “His budget is contrary to African-American interests in a number of ways, and it’s our role as policymakers to call him out on it,” said Richmond in an interview with The Associated Press.

Richmond said caucus members don’t plan to sit for photos with Trump, who got only 8 percent of the African-American vote in last November’s election. Presidents of historically black colleges and universities were mocked by some for posing for a photo with Trump in the White House, and then saw no increase in money for their schools in Trump’s budget. The administration has proposed cuts in financial assistance that students depend on.

In fact, Richmond said he’s been urged by his constituents, black voters and even caucus members to cancel the meeting and instead focus only on resisting the president’s agenda and reducing the chances for his re-election, similar to what he said tea party Republicans did to former President Barack Obama.

He said “if our only action is to resist,” African-Americans around the country are going to suffer disproportionately.

“We have a responsibility as African-American leaders to always put them first,” Richmond said.

Trump is willing to work with the black caucus, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

“Maybe they won’t agree on 100 percent or 60 percent, but maybe there’s 15, 20 or 30 percent of the issues, maybe there’s one bill in particular that they can work on,” Spicer said. “But there’s a willingness to sit down and talk and I think that’s the first step in the process of any of these.”

The Congressional Black Caucus is made up of 49 black members of Congress, mostly Democrats, but Republican Rep. Mia Love of Utah is also a member.

The meeting is as much for Trump as it is for the black caucus, Richmond said. “He does not have diverse people around him,” he said. “His views are distorted by either his life experience or the life experiences of the people around him. And we owe it to black America to have a candid conversation with him to educate him on the African-American community, the problems that we face and the solution we offer as policymakers.”

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