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CBC Lukewarm on Watt Trial Balloon: 'Not That Sexy'

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Watt’s name has been floated to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, but some Congressional Black Caucus members see the Cabinet post as one that operates “mainly in the shadows.”

Another senior CBC member, pressed on whether he thought the White House should formally respond to the letter, feigned disinterest.

“I can’t remember,” the lawmaker said.

The White House has signaled that Obama will meet face to face with the CBC, but the meeting has not yet been scheduled, Fudge said.

At last week’s meeting between Obama and House Democrats, no one from the CBC asked the president about the group’s concerns, even as some members, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, approached the microphone to ask about other issues.

Obama’s Cabinet has been a sore spot for some caucus members for a while, and it is one of the most palpable illustrations of the complicated relationship between the first black president and the CBC.

A recent Politics365.com post by Lauren Victoria Burke, who also authors a blog about African-Americans in Congress, put the matter in stark relief.

President Bill Clinton nominated seven African-Americans to his Cabinet. President George W. Bush nominated four. Obama has nominated only one — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. — although he has installed blacks such as U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to other sub-Cabinet positions.

“President Obama has selected only one African-American to his cabinet so far, the lowest number of any President in 38 years,” Burke wrote.

CBC members said Watt, a member of the Financial Services Committee, would be a perfect fit for the FHFA, given his sharp intellect and experience on housing issues.

And some members, including Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Hank Johnson of Georgia, said the post is quite prestigious in their view.

“FHFA is very important. I don’t think it’s small potatoes at all. And for all the people who are looking for some write-downs, they need somebody who understands the issues and understands the importance of getting the housing market working again,” Ellison said.

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