WASHINGTON — Call it the $6 billion boycott.
By boycotting a key House committee vote last week and threatening to abandon support for banking regulations, members of the Congressional Black Caucus got $4 billion added to a Wall Street regulation bill and $2 billion to a proposed House jobs bill in spending they sought for African American communities.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), this week inserted $3 billion to the legislation to provide low-interest loans to unemployed homeowners in danger of foreclosure. He added $1 billion for neighborhood revitalization programs.
The money would come out of the $700 billion financial rescue fund.
"For those of us who walked out, it was absolutely essential that we have parts of that legislation directed toward helping people who have been left out of all of these bailouts," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), one of 10 Black caucus members in the Financial Services Committee, said.
The proposed jobs bill targets $1 billion from infrastructure spending for public housing repairs. It also provides $1 billion for an affordable housing trust fund.
With 40 members in the House, the Congressional Black Caucus can be a potent force.
"Since last September, we have continuously voted for bailout and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), said on the day of the boycott. "That stops today."
Among the caucus' demands were greater assistance for minority-owned auto dealerships and banks that lend in African-American communities and more government advertising in minority-owned media.