Congressional Black Caucus unveils ‘Day One’ agenda in anticipation of Jeffries becoming House speaker

The Congressional Black Caucus unveiled its “Day One” priorities for the next session of Congress in 2025 at a press conference this week, discussing top issues impacting Black communities, including protecting voting rights, diversity, equity and inclusion, and reproductive freedoms.

TheGrio’s D.C. Bureau Chief and senior White House correspondent, April D. Ryan, on Wednesday moderated the “CBC Black Media Salon” with CBC Chairman U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and Rep. Glenn Ivey, D-Md. 

The event was held at the Washington, D.C., office of the progressive advocacy group People For the American Way. Black reporters from various outlets attended to hear from CBC leaders about what’s next for their policy agenda. 

“The issues of Black America are very important,” Ryan, the longest-serving Black female White House reporter in U.S. history, told theGrio. “We’re watching our laws be eroded. We’re watching a time now called the post-affirmative action era.”  

Ryan added, “It was important for people, including me, to hear what they had to say.”

During the panel, CBC members discussed how they plan to advocate for reproductive rights, combat efforts to defund Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), lower the cost of housing, protect voting rights, reform the U.S. Supreme Court, and ensure diversity, inclusion, and equity are upheld in the workplace.

“There are forces working to take away the very tools of economic opportunity and freedoms that we have fought so hard to advance,” said CBC Chairman Horsford. “We are going to hold everyone accountable. We don’t have permanent friends or permanent enemies. We have permanent interests.”

Earlier this month, House Democrats held their annual retreat. They told reporters that their motto for 2024 is “Finish the Job,” as they attempt to win back the House majority in the upcoming 2024 general elections.

Rep. Steven Horsford,
Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford (above) confirmed with theGrio that he met with Republican Sen. Tim Scott on Monday to discuss police reform and plans to reach out to other Republican colleagues. (Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)

In a previous interview, Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, told theGrio that if voters want to see progress on important issues such as “climate change” or “[getting] some of our rights back when it relates to reproductive access,” they must vote for Democrats.

Congresswoman Beatty told theGrio that to win Democratic support, the CBC must change how it communicates with voters.

“We have to do more of explaining legislation and ensuring that CBC-led efforts are translated into simple language versus congressional language,” she said.

The Ohio lawmaker shared a message for Democratic voters who plan to cast a vote for Trump in the upcoming election.

“This is the man who told you to drink bleach. This is the man who threw paper towels to people in Puerto Rico. This is the man who said he could go on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and there is nothing you can do about it,” said Beatty. “That’s the alternative [to President Biden].” 

Horsford told theGrio that he believes Black voters have a right to “have an opinion and a perspective,” explaining, “We are not a monolith.” However, the CBC chair believes those who vowed to vote for Trump may be “disenchanted” or “misinformed.” He acknowledged, “That’s on us.” 

Horsford continued: “We’re to blame for them not knowing that we lifted 50% of children out of poverty, doubled the number of loans to Black-owned businesses in the last three years from the SBA (Small Business Administration), we are seeing record low unemployment, and the CBC created legislation that gave way to the largest investment in HBCUs.”

“There is no one in the U.S. House of Representatives who has done more to advance the interest of Black America than the CBC and our members,” he added.

Ivey told theGrio that to defeat Republicans this November, congressional members and President Biden must meet voters where they are.

U.S. President Joe Biden,
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Montgomery County Community College January 5, 2024 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. In his first campaign event of the 2024 election season, Biden stated that democracy and fundamental freedoms are under threat if former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the White House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We have to make sure that we have a presence on all platforms to make information available to voters,” he said.

Congressman Ivey noted that many CBC accomplishments haven’t been highlighted on social media platforms like TikTok. Therefore, many voters are unaware of the progress that Democrats have made. The Maryland lawmaker said sharing accurate information about the party’s success will also help prevent the spread of misinformation ahead of the 2024 elections.

During the chat, CBC members also discussed a legislative plan that would be enacted if House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., were to become House speaker.

“In the coming months, the CBC will engage in a coordinated legislative effort … to create new legislation that I’m calling the ‘Day One’ agenda for when Hakeem Jeffries becomes speaker,” said Horsford.

The agenda would address things like racial equity, closing the racial wealth gap, housing affordability, artificial intelligence and its impact on the Black community, and tax equity and fairness.

“We want to create a day one agenda for the next Congress … focused on Black economic creation,” he said.

Toward the end of the discussion, Horsford and Beatty gave reporters an inside look at what the CBC hopes President Biden will address at the State of the Union on March 7.

Beatty told Ryan that due to reproductive rights being a controversial topic following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, she believes Biden will highlight the crisis that women across the nation are currently facing.

“I think he clearly understands the power of the number of women who vote,” she said.

Horsford said he hopes the president will “use the moment of the State of the Union and the anniversary of Bloody Sunday to lift up and tie together the fight for voting rights and the fight for economic justice.”

He added that the president must “cast a vision for how we are to move forward, and that vision has to be passed by Congress.”

“When our very existence as Black people and the opportunities we have to achieve economic freedom is under attack, we expect Democrats [like Biden] to speak up,” said Horsford.

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The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) revealed their “Day One” priorities for the next session of Congress in 2025, focusing on issues impacting Black communities such as voting rights, diversity, equity, inclusion, and reproductive freedoms. During a press conference moderated by April D. Ryan, CBC members discussed their policy agenda, including advocating for reproductive rights, protecting HBCUs, lowering housing costs, reforming the U.S. Supreme Court, and promoting workplace diversity. They emphasized the importance of holding everyone accountable to protect economic opportunities and freedoms. Additionally, the CBC addressed the need to communicate better with voters, especially those considering voting for Trump, highlighting the accomplishments and progress made by Democrats. The CBC also discussed a legislative plan for when House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries potentially becomes House Speaker, aiming to focus on issues like racial equity and the racial wealth gap. They expressed hopes for President Biden to address these issues during the State of the Union address.

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