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NAACP gives Capitol Hill an F

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/11/2013, 4:21 p.m.
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The NAACP released its Congressional Report Card grading legislators in 2011, and it appears lawmakers didn't measure up when it came to legislation on civil rights.

The report card addresses votes taken during the first session of the 112th Congress, which began January 2011 and ended December 2011. Specifically, 46 percent of senators received a failing grade and more than 55 percent of House members received a grade of F.

Issues ranged from education to labor, economic development, health care, collective bargaining, criminal justice and voting rights initiatives.

"The NAACP Legislative Report Card is intended to reflect how responsive members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have voted on the crucial civil and human rights needs of all Americans," said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. "Although much has changed in the last 50 years, there is still much to be done. Racial discrimination, segregation, bias and disparities continue to plague our nation. We need to understand how and if our elected federal officials are dealing with these problems."

The report card shows how all 100 voting members of the Senate voted on 15 NAACP National Legislative Priorities out of a total of 235 recorded Senate votes cast in 2011, and how all 435 voting members of the House of Representatives voted on 20 of the NAACP's National Legislative Priorities out of a total of 949 House votes.

"More than half of the members of the U.S. Congress scored failing grades on the NAACP's Legislative Report Card, reflecting the 'bread and butter' civil rights issues, as voted upon in the first session of the 112th Congress," said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary O. Shelton.

The votes selected for inclusion in the NAACP Legislative Report Card are those that have been considered by the full House of Representatives and Senate. Legislation that does not progress beyond the committee level is not included. The report card is updated and distributed to NAACP members twice each Congress.

Since each Congress lasts two years, the NAACP Legislative Report Card is issued at the end of the first year, offering a midterm assessment, and also at the close of the second year, providing a final grade reflecting the work of the full Congress.

Shelton said, "The fact that this is a midterm assessment of the 112th Congress should serve as encouragement to congressional leaders to focus on enacting an agenda that will truly address the challenges the American people are facing before the end of the session."