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U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks is the chairman of CBC PAC. (Courtesy Photo)

There are 46 Black members in the U.S. Congress. The Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee wants to increase it to 50.

The Congressional Black Caucus, like many political groups, formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1994 to further its aims of increasing the number of Blacks in both the House and the Senate and to back non-Black members who support their agenda. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the organization, said he wants people who will come to Capitol Hill to “fight for economic growth, prosperity, and justice for all Americans.”

“The members of the Congressional Black Caucus are working hard so that polarization in Washington does not further erode America’s middle class and setback progress for generations to come,” Meeks said. “Our 46 members are in some of the strongest leadership positions and have used their influence to make real and significant advancements in policies that put our country in better standing at home and globally, and allow Americans to thrive.”

The PAC can donate $5,000 to a candidate during the primary season and $5,000 for the general election. Candidates who have benefitted from the PAC in this election cycle are Will Jawando running in Maryland’s eighth congressional district and California State Sen. Isadore Hall III (D-District 35), who is seeking to represent the Golden State’s 44th district.

The PAC has also endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) in her bid to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Harris welcomed the support. “I am honored to have the support of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Political Action Committee,” Harris told the Los Angeles Sentinel. “I look forward to working closely with its members in Washington as I continue to fight for California families in the Senate.”

Ben Branch, executive director of the PAC, told the AFRO that Val Demings, a candidate for Florida’s 10th congressional district, could possibly get the PAC’s support. U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), in her quest to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), is in consideration for the PAC’s support, as well. “Our executive board makes the decisions on who the PAC will get behind and we are in the process of looking at Rep. Edwards’ race,” Branch said.

Former Rep. Al Wynn, whom Edwards defeated in the Feb. 13, 2008 Democratic primary for Congress, is on the PAC’s board with Branch along with Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Hakeem Jefferies (D-N.Y.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.), Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.), and former Rep. Steven Horsford.

Dr. E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of The National Congress of Black Women, is enthusiastic about the PAC and said it might have been helpful to her a few decades ago. “I am absolutely certain that if CBC PAC was around when I ran for Congress in 1986, I would have emerged victorious,” Williams said.

Williams came within six-tenths of one percent of being the first Black elected to the Congress from Louisiana in the Alexandria-based district at that time. Irregularities were later determined by state election authorities to have stopped Williams from winning the seat. Williams ran in 1988 again for the seat but wasn’t successful. “It’s difficult to defeat an incumbent,” she said.

Williams said that members of the Congressional Black Caucus then supported her by raising and donating money to the campaign as well as making personal contacts on her behalf. “There was no CBC PAC but members of Congress like Mervyn Dymally, Bill Gray, Walter Fauntroy, and Charles Hayes helped me,” she said.

Williams said she is encouraged with the development of the PAC, but said it needs to make sure that it is fair and equal in regards to gender. “They need to make sure that they are just as helpful to women candidates as they are to male candidates,” she said.