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The Congressional Black Caucus unanimously approved Rep. Emanuel Cleaver on Wednesday to be its chairman for the 112th Congress.
“I am humbled and honored by my colleagues’ support, and I plan to prove myself worthy of their endorsement,” the Missouri Democrat said in a statement. “I owe a deep debt to our current Chair, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for her steadfast leadership. I have learned much from her estimable example. I look forward to working with all my colleagues, of all creeds, colors, parties, and ideologies, as we begin the 112th Congress in 2011.”
The decision to install Cleaver as the successor to Lee follows several days of tumult within the caucus. The CBC had concerns about the role of Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) in the House Democratic leadership in the 112th Congress, but it united behind his Assistant Leader role Wednesday.
Lee, who will remain chairwoman until January, applauded Cleaver.
“As First Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cleaver oversaw our Jobs Taskforce and played an integral role in crafting and implementing our legislative and messaging strategy on a host of issues from health care reform and the economic recovery to climate change and Wall Street reform,” The California Democrat said in a statement. “While we have had many successes on a host of issues, there remains much more important work to do in the upcoming Congress and I am confident that the incoming CBC executive officers are more than up to the challenge.”
Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) were elected as first vice chair and second vice chair, respectively. Rounding out the executive committee are Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), who will serve as secretary, and Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.), who will serve as whip.
After toying with the idea of running for CBC chairwoman, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee instead opted Wednesday to support Cleaver.
“For those of us who care about the most vulnerable in our country, we have some difficult and contentious days ahead,” the Texas Democrat said in a statement. “Therefore, in the spirit of unity, in order to move the CBC forward, and to protect the changes that we have enacted, today I was pleased to move that Emanuel Cleaver be elected by acclamation for the CBC Chair for the 112th Congress, and I was glad to give him my support.”
She did say that she looks forward to serving as chairwoman in the future.