The Changing Face of the Congressional Black Caucus

Kareem U. Crayton, The Changing Face of the Congressional Black Caucus, 19 S. Cal. Interdisc. L.J. 473 (2010).

Abstract:  As one of the oldest informal networks in the House of Representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has more than tripled in size from its thirteen-person membership in 1971 to become a key player in Washington politics. In recent years, the CBC, which once was rather unified on substantive issues, has become a “looser confederation” whose members hold various economic and political views. The arrival of newer members with high aspirations for their political careers has caused a significant shift within the CBC from “identity based” politics to politics that promote alliances between the black community and the general electorate. 

Despite this alteration in political focus, recent studies have shown that there remains a high level of cohesions among the members of the CBC, more so than with other groups within the House. The article goes on to analyze the level of cohesiveness within the CBC following 1996. The results of the study generally show that the members remain rather liberal in their political views. One notable finding was the CBC’s solidarity on foreign policy issues, which reflect the members’ dissatisfaction with the administration’s war on terrorism. The overall important findings were that the CBC remains one of the most unified informal networks and that the pattern of cohesion depends on the topic of the vote; the CBC tends to be more unified on foreign policy matters than on economic concerns.

To download a full version of the article, click here.

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