By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

The Congressional Black Caucus on March 2 announced its agenda for the 118th Congress during the House Democrats 2023 Issues Conference held in Baltimore City at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor.

Under the theme of “delivering for our communities, housing, jobs and justice,” CBC Chairman Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and several other members announced the group’s priorities, including accessibility of jobs, housing affordability, transportation and gun violence.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) addressed the caucus’ agenda on homelessness.

“Due to the decades of disinvestment in our nation’s housing, infrastructure, and a chronic undersupply of affordable homes, housing prices have skyrocketed by nearly 40 percent since May 2020,” said Waters. “There’s no metropolitan area in the country where families can afford to rent, much less own a home, working a full-time minimum wage job. We cannot accept this and we must change it and we can do it.”

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) laid out the caucus’ plans for jobs, small businesses and economic opportunity.

“This caucus is about economic opportunity,” said Rochester. “I think the platform we are putting forward on housing, jobs and justice is about peace, prosperity and possibilities for our communities.

“We’ve got record low unemployment—50 years low, and a low among Black folks—but we know there is still so much more to do,” continued Rochester. “We need to protect the progress that we’ve made. We’re not going back. We’re going forward.”

Valerie Foushee (D-N.C.) spoke about transportation and infrastructure on behalf of congressional newcomers.

“We must continue to hold Congress and the administration responsible for supporting our local and state communities and improving the lives of our constituents. We are here to finish the job,” said Foushee.

The CBC also announced that they sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to follow up on an executive order addressing police reform  – Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety – which they had encouraged President Biden to pass.

“So today, I am sending a letter to the Department of Justice, calling on them to do their job to provide the Congressional Black Caucus with a response to President Biden’s executive order,” said Rep. Horsford. “In Memphis, use of force was used three times more on Black residents than on White residents. We only know that because they collected and released that information. We need that information for all departments because data tells the story.”

Horsford said the AG’s office has confirmed receipt of the letter and plans to respond and meet with the caucus soon. 

“We don’t want to end policing. We want to put an end to bad policing,” said Horsford. “I want to thank President Biden publicly for listening to the Congressional Black Caucus.”

CBC members represent 18 million Black Americans collectively, the group said.

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.