Joint Center Updates
Voting rights blocked in the Senate, despite President Biden’s MLK stand: Democrat efforts to pass voting rights legislation in the Senate failed, The New York Times reports. Republicans prevented progress on the vote and Democrats were unsuccessful in convincing colleagues Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to support efforts to change filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bills with a simple majority and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Harris. These actions came on the heels of the nation celebrating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Biden and Vice President Harris renewing their call for the passage of new voting rights laws. Before the vote, President Biden acknowledged the potential setback, but said Democrats are not out of options, The Washington Post reports. And Joint Center President Spencer Overton agrees. He told C-SPAN Monday there are several compromises that could lead to the passage.
Biden taps Black economists to serve on the Federal Reserve Board: President Biden nominated two Black economists, Drs. Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson, to fill openings on the Federal Reserve Board, The New York Times reports. The nominations represent a win for legislators — including Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH), House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA), and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus — as well as other advocates, including the Joint Center, pushing for diversity at the Fed and other financial regulatory authorities. Joint Center President Spencer Overton commended President Biden on the nominations. If confirmed, Dr. Cook would become the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve Board. Dr. Jefferson would be the fourth Black man out of nearly 100 appointments on the Federal Reserve since it was created by Congress in 1913 (the first was former Joint Center board member Dr. Andrew Brimmer). The Joint Center is also urging lawmakers to make another history-making appointment by nominating and confirming a Black chair of a federal regulatory agency.
Resignations of White House officials alarm environmental justice advocates: The sudden resignations of two members of the White House’s Council on Economic Quality sparked fears that the Biden Administration will not deliver on a promise to address pollution in minority and low-income communities, Politico reports. The resignations of Cecilia Martinez and David Kieve have increased the frustrations of environmental justice experts dissatisfied with the White House’s lack of progress in addressing long-standing environmental and economic inequities.
Cherfilus-McCormick wins race to succeed the late Alcee Hastings in Congress: Democrat and healthcare company CEO Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won a special election to replace the late Alcee Hastings to represent Florida’s 20th Congressional District, The Washington Post reports, soundly defeating GOP candidate Jason Mariner and restoring her party’s 222-seat majority in Congress. Cherfilus-McCormick is the second Haitian-American elected to Congress, and the first sent to Congress from Florida, the Miami Herald reports.
Upcoming congressional hearings include Voter Suppression and Continuing Threats to Democracy (Housing Judiciary Committee, Jan. 20); Race, Ethnicity and the Economy: How Improving Economic Opportunity Benefits All (House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, Jan. 20); Securing Democracy: Protecting Against Threats to Election Infrastructure and Voter Confidence (House Homeland Security Committee, Jan. 20).
Several civil rights organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), the NAACP, the National Urban League, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Council of Negro Women, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation issued a joint statement urging the Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act. In a separate release, the National Urban League (NUL) also urged passage of the legislation.
The LDF also announced the results of a redistricting poll in Louisiana showing that most of the state’s residents want “fair and equitable” redistricting maps. The poll was commissioned by LDF, ACLU of Louisiana, Fair Districts Louisiana, and Louisiana Progress.
NUL President and CEO Marc Morial and National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton praised a decision by DirectTV to remove One America News, citing the outlet as a source of a “venomous flow of information” that fueled the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol.
Color of Change announced a partnership with the Black Owned Media Equity & Sustainability Institute aimed at securing a multimillion commitment from major corporations to support Black-owned media.
The 25th Annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project Economic Summit will be held virtually from March 21-23, 2022.
The National Organization of Black County Officials’ 36th Annual Economic Development Conference will be in (Shelby County) Memphis, TN from April 20, 2022.