NAACP Gives Congress Failing Grade

Congressional Black Caucus members are at the head of the class.

Posted: 04/18/2012 06:46 PM EDT

Add the NAACP to the growing number of organizations and individuals that believe congressional lawmakers are doing a lousy job. The organization’s Civil Rights Legislative Report Card released April 18 gave failing grades to 46 percent of U.S. senators and 55 percent of House members based on how they voted on “bread and butter” civil rights issues from January 5 to December 23, 2011.


“The fact that the federal government touches almost every aspect of our lives, from health and education to criminal justice and economic stability, means that they have the power to make improvements in the lives of almost every American if they simply exercise their political will to work hard and address the real issues and concerns of the American people,” said Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington bureau chief.


The report card rates 15 votes taken in the Senate and 20 in the House on legislation that would repeal funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act and ban funding for health care services provided by Planned Parenthood, the House’s 2012 federal budget, an amendment to stop payments for the Black farmers settlement and the confirmation vote on Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


Not surprisingly, almost every member of the Congressional Black Caucus earned an A grade. The exceptions were Reps. Sanford Bishop (Georgia) and Gregory Meeks (New York), who each received a B, and Florida’s Allen West, who earned an F.


The NAACP has issued a legislative report card since 1914 to educate its members on their congressional representatives’ voting patterns.


“Although much has changed in the past 50 years, there is still much to be done. Racial discrimination, segregation, bias and disparities continue to plague our nation,” said NAACP President Ben Jealous. “We need to understand how and if our federal officials are dealing with these problems.”


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