Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) was a no-show at the Congressional Black Caucus first sit-down Thursday afternoon with President Barack Obama, hanging back in the Senate to cast a vote in favor of the bill to give the District of Columbia a voting representative in the House.
He was initially scheduled to go, but once they shifted the schedule around, he decided to stay, Burris spokesman Jim OConnor said.
No matter. A majority of the 42-member group showed up for the hourlong huddle with Obama, a former CBC member himself, and emerged satisfied that they now have a partner in the White House.
Attendees said they discussed health care, education, judicial nominees, job creation and the impact of the economic stimulus package on their communities. CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) described the session as an historic moment for the caucus.
The CBC traditionally tries to schedule annual meetings with the president early in the year, though they only secured two such sit-downs with former President George W. Bush over his eight-year tenure.
In the past, weve had to educate presidents, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said. [Obama] gets it. He gets the problems … Usually when I leave these meetings, I feel the jury is still out. Now we truly have a partner in this president, and one who understands the pain Americans are going through.