And the blurring of racial lines might complicate things for race-based organizations. President Barack Obama, for example, was once a CBC member, and his heritage includes a white mother and a Kenyan father.
But the CBC sidesteps those kinds of issues by admitting anyone who identifies as an African-American. The organization has always been heavily Democratic, though it’s technically nonpartisan, and only two of six black Republicans elected to Congress have chosen to join.
“Any African-American can join the CBC,” Cleaver says. “You don’t do a blood test. You don’t have to fill out any papers. You don’t have to like NBA basketball.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.