Marcia Fudge: New Black Caucus Chair Looks for Bipartisan Accord

Marcia Fudge: New Black Caucus Chair Looks for Bipartisan Accord


( – U. S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, says she believes opportunities for bi-partisan co-operation between the CBC and Republican legislators may be more prevalent than some believe.

“I certainly think that bi-partisanship is going to be important going forward…We have to, as we look at how polarized the House of Representatives is, we’re going to have to find ways that we can find some common ground,” Fudge said in an interview.

Fudge was unanimously elected to serve a two-year term as chair, succeeding Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), whose term ended at the close of the 112th Congress.

She is known for her bi-partisan relationships, such as the Restore our Neighborhoods Act of 2012 that she co-sponsored with then Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) to finance demolition of vacant, foreclosed and abandoned homes throughout the nation.

“The only way that that [bill] even got the light of day, quite frankly, and got unanimous vote in the House is because Steve LaTourette was one of the sponsors of the bill,” she spoke of her Republican colleague. “And every single urban community in this country could use those kinds of resources when we talk about just a growing number of vacant and abandoned buildings and Steven and I had been trying to figure out how we could do something to help our community. As we explained to both sides of the aisle, they went right on board because everybody in a lot of ways are in the same situation.”

Fudge says she believes this kind of bi-partisan co-operation is absent from Congress. Recent bi-partisan cooperation on gun control legislation has given a sign of hope. But, more often than not Congress has been at a stalemate on issues due to partisan politics.

As she leads the CBC the next two years, she said she believes her knack for coalescing will be to their benefit.

“I think that because I’ve already built certain kinds of relationships, when people on the other side of the aisle, our Republican colleagues, need assistance on our side, they will feel that I have more of a leadership role and would be more likely to come to me to talk to me about issues that they believe we can work together on.”

A former mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, Fudge describes herself as both liberal and conservative.

“Even though I am a staunch social liberal, I really truly am a fiscal conservative. Because I’ve had to be. When you’re the mayor of a city, you’ve got to balance your budget,” she said.

However, she indicates there are some issues on which she will not compromise. As a social liberal, she will no doubt lead the 43-member, mostly Democratic Caucus on some of the key bread and butter issues that their predominately Black constituents will need. Partisan disagreements often arise over fiscally conservative Republican attempts to cut social programs that socially liberal Democrats desire to keep.

“Obviously one of my major issues is poverty. I’m on the Agriculture Committee and I make sure that our children have decent meals in schools, that we don’t significantly cut food stamps and we make sure that our food banks are funded and that people have a place to live.”

Fudge is also concerned about a level of violence in Black communities that had reached astronomical levels long before the tragic Dec. 17 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

“We have to address this culture of violence in our community. I mean our young people are exposed to violence every day,” she said. “I understand all of the things that have gone along with the big kind of incidents like Newtown that raise our consciences and break our hearts, but our children are confronted with violence every day and what affect does that have on their lives going forward?”

Fudge was elected to Congress in 2008 in a special election following the death of Ohio Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who had represented the seat for nearly a decade. A former chief of staff to the popular Jones, Fudge has now earned her own Congressional reputation as a staunch advocate for the poor.

She describes herself through the eyes of the CBC which casted an unusual unanimous vote for her election: “Very, very strong in my views and my opinions and that I will fight for what I think is right. As well as I hope that they would say that I care so deeply about, not just the members of the Caucus obviously, but all of the people that we represent that I am never going to lose sight of why I’m there.”

With the re-election of President Obama, Fudge sees the next four years as “a strong opportunity for “our seniors, our disabled and our children.”

She concludes, “We’re not walking on egg shells; the President has been re-elected, we want to make sure that we are strong in the things that we believe in…We want to be at the table.”