Dec 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Congressional Black Caucus shifts focus away from Cabinet slots

Rep. Steven Horsford

Rep. Steven Horsford. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The dwindling number of remaining Cabinet seats has led the Congressional Black Caucus to shift from targeting secretarial slots to instead placing qualified Black candidates in chief of staff and top communications roles.

Why it matters: As with progressives shifting from people to policy, the recalibration for Black leaders is a grudging nod to transition math, as well as proof of their determination to expand opportunity for their community.

What they're saying: Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), who leads the CBC's Transition/First 100 Days task force, told Axios. "Our point is there are more than enough qualified African Americans in every key area, from defense to housing, from education to health care.

  • "We want to see African Americans — if they're not in the No. 1 slot — we expect, and we'll continue to demand, that they be in the No. 2 or 3 position."

Of note: The CBC is also targeting the White House Office of Legislative Affairs and agency counsel offices, as well as judges, U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals.

  • "This is a partnership," Horsford said. "We all worked very hard to elect [Joe Biden and Kamala Harris]. We want them to be successful, and we want them to follow through on the commitments that they made during the campaign."

Background: Horsford said he speaks daily with Yohannes Abraham, the transition's executive director. Also on the calls are Reps. Alma Adams, Sheila Jackson Lee, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Hank Johnson and Colin Allred.

  • They will meet this week for the first time with incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. They plan to push hard for Fudge at Agriculture and Rep. Karen Bass for secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
  • "It's critical timing for them to hear us directly," Horsford said.

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