Town Halls Beginning to Heat Up This Week

By John R Parkinson

Aug 17, 2011 6:48pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:

Activities during August recess for a member of Congress can vary from holding town hall meetings with constituents to campaign fundraising with donors. Official congressional overseas trips to war zones and diplomatic hot spots to jobs fairs for the unemployed.

This August, most members of Congress are participating in at least some of those traditional recess events. For example, right now House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is leading a delegation of Republicans on a trip to Israel. Last week, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer led a large delegation of House Democrats on their own trip to Israel.

But if you remember the intense backlash that ensued after the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2009, usually it’s the August town halls that grab headlines.

This week, the Congressional Black Caucus is sponsoring "For the People" Jobs Initiative tour throughout some of the worst hit urban areas with respect to unemployment and the financial crisis.

Wednesday at an event in Detroit, Rep. Maxine Waters, the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told an audience that while she defended the president and was supportive of him, African-American lawmakers will “unleash” on the president when black voters say it’s time.

"We don't put pressure on the president," Waters, D-Calif., told a friendly crowd at Wayne County Community College.  "Let me tell you why. We don't put pressure on the president because ya'll love the president. You love the president. You're very proud to have a black man — first time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you're going after us." 

But Waters said she was prepared to go along with popular sentiment of her constituents if that’s what the people want. 

“We’re supportive of the president, but we getting tired, yall. Getting tired. And so what we want to do is we want to give the president every opportunity to show – to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on,” Waters, D-Calif., said as the crowd encouraged her along. “We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is.”

Waters also questioned why the president was not visiting any black communities on his three-day blitz through the Midwest and reiterated that she was in Congress to represent her constituents, not the president.

“We don’t know why on this trip that he’s in the United States now he’s not stopping in any black communities. We don’t know that,” Waters said. “But all I’m saying to you is we are politicians, we are elected officials. We are trying to do the right thing and the best thing. When you let us know it is time to let go, we’ll let go.”

The unemployment rate of African-Americans stands 15.9 percent, far above the national rate at 9.2 percent.

Waters appeared at the town hall with the current chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., and fellow Democratic Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich., Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., and Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. 

The tour of CBC town halls will continue in Detroit (Aug. 16), Atlanta (Aug. 18-19), Miami (Aug. 22-23) and Los Angeles (Aug. 30-31).

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus