Black church leaders group excluded from Joe Biden cabinet inclusivity meeting

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Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden excluded an organization of Black church leaders from his meeting Tuesday with civil rights groups demanding he name more people of color to his Cabinet.

Black Church PAC said its members want a seat at the table akin to the status President Trump gave evangelical Christians.

Rev. Michael McBride, the co-founder of Black Church PAC, said his goal is increasing the government’s inclusivity and said inattention to the issue could diminish Mr. Biden’s support among religious Black voters.

“Bad governance is de facto voter suppression, and so the lack of engagement around governance does at times feed the perception that it does not matter who is elected and who wins,” Rev. McBride said. “Of course we know that elections matter, and so we think the important step here is to make sure that the administration is hearing from directly impacted families across the country on the ground and not just the Washington, D.C., civil rights community, which again we work with all across the country but we do think that they need to hear from our leaders all across the country who helped to secure this election.”

Among the groups meeting with Mr. Biden was the leadership of the NAACP, the National Urban League and Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Rev. McBride said his members played a role in key swing states, including in Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, both by voting and working as poll watchers. Now, Rev. McBride said his members want to be rewarded for their work, which also included knocking on tens of thousands of voters’ doors, including nearly 4,300 in Georgia.

He said his group is eyeing the top spots at the Department of Justice, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Agriculture as positions that could be filled by Black nominees.

Mr. Biden is expected to tap Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, who is Black, as his pick to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Following their meeting with Mr. Biden and presumptive Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Tuesday, civil rights leaders sounded optimistic that Mr. Biden would aim to foster more inclusion as he staffs his prospective administration.

Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told reporters that Mr. Biden talked extensively with the groups about the need for a more diverse Cabinet and other presidential appointments.

“The president-elect reaffirmed that he intends to make history when it comes to the appointments of African Americans and Hispanics to his Cabinet, the subcabinet and the White House,” Mr. Morial said. “And while we will not judge the ultimate outcome and we cannot at this time, for me it was refreshing to hear him reaffirm that commitment in the meeting to us. But we will judge the Cabinet, and the subcabinet, and the White House staff ultimately by the results.”

One potential rift between Senate Democrats and Mr. Biden’s Black supporters is over the selection of retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be Mr. Biden’s secretary of defense. Rev. McBride said his group supports the nomination, while several Senate Democrats have signaled they oppose a waiver needed for the nomination of the former military leader to proceed.

Rev. McBride said he hopes the first Black nominee for the secretary of defense position is not mistreated and wants to see more Black nominees with experience filling key federal government slots rather than those familiar with Washington’s corridors of power.

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