President-elect Donald Trump’s recent attacks on civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) are generating questions over whether a traditional meeting between the president and Congressional Black Caucus will be another long-standing custom Trump decides to abandon.
All chief executives except President Richard Nixon have met with the CBC at the start of a new Congress since its founding in 1971, and President Ronald Reagan in 1983 signed into law the bill that created a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
But Trump raised the possibility that the practice might be abandoned when he attacked Lewis via Twitter for questioning the legitimacy of his electoral win and shelved plans to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the MLK holiday.
Amid the subsequent uproar, Trump met with Martin Luther King III at Trump Tower. But with tensions still escalating between Trump and CBC lawmakers—many of whom say they will boycott the Jan. 20 Inauguration—it remains to be seen whether the new president will cultivate relations with what has become a large voting bloc.
Data-driven research recently performed by Quorum Analytics shows the influence of the CBC is growing. The firm said in a recent report that when Nixon rejected a meeting, the CBC had 13 members drawn from eight states and the District of Columbia. But 46 years later, the caucus has 49 members drawn from 21 states as well as D.C. and the Virgin Islands.
The CBC of the 115th Congress, Quorum said, is the largest and the oldest seen. It includes two senators, 45 representatives, and two non-voting delegates.
“The caucus includes 48 Democrats and 1 Republican representing a total of 78 million Americans (24 percent of the U.S. population) and 17 million African-Americans (41 percent of the African-American population),” Quorum said.
Quorum, which provides data-based political and competitive intelligence to lobbying firms, said 60 percent of CBC members are over 65 years old and 80 percent served 20 years or more in Congress.
But the membership of the CBC remains largely Democratic, the firm said. Since it was founded, there have been only eight African-American Republicans elected to Congress and only half of these joined the CBC.
The three African-American Republicans currently serving in Congress are Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah). Only Love joined the caucus, it said.
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