Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts


The most senior Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill is taking Joe Biden to task over administration appointments, saying the president-elect is falling short when it comes to naming Black figures to top positions.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House majority whip and a close Biden ally, expressed disappointment on Wednesday that African Americans — a voting bloc crucial to Biden's presidential victory — have not featured more prominently among the early picks to fill out senior administration posts next year.

In an interview with Juan Williams, Clyburn welcomed Biden's selection of Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black veteran of the diplomatic corps, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But he lamented that she is so far alone among Black women tapped for cabinet seats and other top slots.

“From all I hear, Black people have been given fair consideration,” Clyburn told Williams, a columnist for The Hill. “But there is only one Black woman so far."

"I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces," he added. "But so far it’s not good.”

Coming from Clyburn, the criticism carries a particular weight. The 14-term South Carolinian is not only the third-ranking House Democrat, a veteran of the civil rights movement and the most powerful African American in Congress, but he also helped deliver the Palmetto State to Biden at a crucial moment in the Democratic primary, when Biden was limping behind the surging campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Clyburn's voice holds outsized sway among Democratic voters in the state, many of them African American, and his decision to endorse Biden ahead of the primary vote lent a pivotal boost to the former vice president, who carried the momentum from South Carolina into Super Tuesday, when he shocked the field with decisive wins en route to the Democratic nomination. Black voters, in those contests, were a major source of Biden's success.

While President Trump has not yet conceded, Biden is pushing ahead toward his scheduled inauguration on Jan. 20. And in recent days he began naming his choices for Cabinet positions and other senior positions in his White House next year.

The early selections are not devoid of diversity.

To head the Department of Homeland Security, Biden chose Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban American and the first Hispanic to fill that role.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), former head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and a close friend of Clyburn, was tapped as director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he'll serve as a senior adviser to Biden and a liaison between the West Wing and Congress, where he has extensive ties to lawmakers in both parties.

And Biden's soon-to-be vice president is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the most powerful Black woman elected in U.S. history.

Clyburn, though, says he's eager for more min... (Read more)

Submitted 60 days ago

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