109th Congress Receives Failing Grade on Civil Rights MattersJanuary 03, 2007
Jan. 3, 2007
"Unacceptable" is how the NAACP describes the performance of members of the U.S. Congress in addressing fundamental civil rights agenda items in the last two years. In its final Legislative Report Card on the 109th Congress (which adjourned Dec. 9, 2006) the NAACP found only slight improvement in the voting record among members of both chambers. The majority of U.S. Senators (54 out of 100) and Representatives (225 out of 435) voted in support of the NAACP's position less than 59 percent of the time, receiving a grade of "F" from the NAACP.
"This report confirms that there is a lack of alignment between the priorities of the communities the NAACP was founded to serve and the majority of the members of Congress," said NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon. "While we celebrated some hard-earned victories, more often than not policy makers failed to address issues that continue to burden our communities. While we are disappointed, we are also determined. We will continue to hold our Association accountable for engaging our senators and representatives, advocating on behalf of our people and relentlessly pursuing our mission until we succeed."
Since 1914 the NAACP Legislative Report Card has presented a summation of key civil rights votes taken in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It is designed to provide NAACP members with insight into the voting patterns of their congressional representatives.
"The latest legislative report card shows how members voted on 28 key votes in the Senate [out of a total of 645 recorded votes in the entire 109th Congress] and 36 priority votes in the House of Representatives [out of a total of 1,214 cast in the entire 109th Congress]," said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary O. Shelton. "Votes on topics like the minimum wage, health care, budget issues, education, gun control, voting rights, low income energy assistance, community development, criminal justice and trade are included in the assessment. Legislation that did not progress beyond the committee level is not included in the assessment."
Thirty-six senators voted with the NAACP 90 to 100 percent of the time receiving an "A" grade, while 16 received a "B" grade for voting with the NAACP 80-89 percent of the time. Three senators received a "C" and one a "D." There are 14 Senators that rarely vote with the Association. The average score of all the senators was 49 percent, up 2 percent from the mid-term average.
In the House, 176 representatives voted in support of the NAACP's position 90 to 100 percent of the time receiving an "A" grade. Forty-one representatives earned Bs from the NAACP while 15 received Cs. Eleven received Ds. The average score in the House was 58 percent, also up 2 percent from the mid-term average.
Shelton added, "The NAACP is heartened to see that each of the incoming chairs of committees for the 110th Congress in both the Senate and House, earned an A grade, while each of the outgoing chairs from the 109th Congress received an F. If this is an indication of things to come in the 110th Congress, we have much to look forward to. "
As each Congress lasts two years, the NAACP Legislative Report Card is issued at the end of the first year offering a mid-term assessment; and at the close of the second year where a final grade is presented. The complete report card, including scores of individual members of Congress, can be found on the NAACP website at www.naacp.org under the Washington Bureau header or go to http://www.naacp.org/programs/bureau-dc/Report_Card_Final_Copy.pdf.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.