CRF Blog

The Congressional Black Caucus Is at War With Itself Over Wall Street

by Bill Hayes

In The Congressional Black Caucus Is at War With Itself Over Wall Street, the New Republic looks at a strange battle within Congress.

The assault on Dodd-Frank relies on support from three different groups. The GOP isn’t shy about its antipathy to government regulations, and a pro-business coalition known as the New Democrats has come to its aid. But there is also a third, lesser-known faction: the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). [Milwaukee Democratic Congresswoman Gwen] Moore, along with colleagues like New York’s Gregory Meeks, Georgia’s David Scott, Missouri’s Lacy Clay, and Alabama’s Terri Sewell, has pushed for a host of seemingly arcane measures that would undermine Dodd-Frank’s rules on financial derivatives, the complex contracts at the heart of the 2008 meltdown. She is the co-sponsor of multiple measures that would once again allow Wall Street to shift its riskiest transactions out of the view of regulators.

The CBC is not an organization known for airing its dirty laundry in public. But over the last year, the tawdriness of its pro–Wall Street votes has become so blatant that several members have started to push back, led by Maxine Waters, the veteran Los Angeles legislator who serves as the top Democrat on the financial services panel. To many in the CBC, it feels like a battle for the storied caucus’s soul — and the result could dictate the direction of economic policy for the Democratic Party at large.

“People are sick about what they’re doing,” says one CBC member. “Some things are just uncharacteristic of certain people. Everybody here has a brand. If your brand is down with the people, standing up for the little guy, then all of a sudden you’re on some bills that have got you helping Goldman Sachs have looser regulations on derivatives? It’s like — wait, what the hell is that?” [more]