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The US Senate Will Now Have More Black Members Than Ever in Its History: 2

February 05, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality

From Mother Jones:

With Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointing his former chief of staff William “Mo” Cowan to fill the Senate seat vacated by incoming Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States’ upper legislative chamber will make history by boasting more black members than ever before: two.

This will be the first time the Senate has had more than one black member at once. Last December, Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, who left to run the conservative Heritage Foundation. The Senate’s high-watermark of two black members may not last long, though: Cowan’s seat will be permanently filled by the winner of a special election in Massachusetts in June, and Scott’s seat will be up for grabs next year.

Throughout American history, there have only been eight black senators in total; in addition to Scott and Cowan, they include: Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-Miss.), Blanche Kelso Bruce (R-Miss.), Edward Brooke (R-Mass.), Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and Roland Burris (D-Ill.). Of these, only Brooke, Braun, and Obama were directly elected by popular vote; Revels and Bruce were appointed by their state legislatures, and Burris was appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Eighty-five years separated the tenures of Bruce and Brooke, who served as the first black senator since Reconstruction. Before Scott, there hadn’t been a black senator from the South in over 130 years.

The Senate, in other words, has historically been a very difficult plateau for blacks to reach, and getting there hasn’t grown much easier since the Civil War.

Reid Outlines Filibuster Changes

January 23, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Legislature

From Roll Call:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has outlined a set of changes to the Senate rules he would like to enact in the coming days, even as senators in both parties said negotiations continued between the Nevada Democrat and his Republican counterpart.

At Tuesday’s Democratic caucus luncheon, Reid presented a package that would eliminate filibusters on motions to proceed and require the minority to muster 41 votes in order to block other agenda items, among other things. Reid said he is prepared to move forward with a simple-majority vote if there’s no agreement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on a separate compromise proposal.

Reid told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he hopes to have a bipartisan agreement on changes to the filibuster rule within the next 24 hours to 36 hours, but emphasized that he was prepared to use the blunt object known as the “nuclear” or “constitutional” option if needed.

“If not, we’re going to move forward on what I think needs to be done. The caucus will support me on that,” he said. When asked if that meant he would take action with 51 votes, the Nevada Democrat said, “yes.”