Kweisi Mfume, President & CEO, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP), met on March 8th for one hour with Richard Armey, Majority Leader of the House of
Representatives. Mfume and Armey discussed several issues including social security reform,
public education, racial profiling, President Bush’s tax proposal and slavery in Sudan. Armey is the
first of three leaders of Congress and President Bush that Mfume plans to meet with.
Mfume said, “The meeting was frank but cordial. Although we may have real and principled
differences, we don’t have to have permanent disengagement. There is enough blame to go around,
but the real question is, where do we go from here?”
- On social security reform, Mfume said the NAACP is against raising the retirement age.
- Mfume and Armey discussed the need to strengthen public education without the use of
publicly funded vouchers.
- Mfume expressed the NAACP’s concern about President Bush’s tax proposal, saying 52%
of African American children and 54% of Latino children would see a reduction in services
due to the availability of fewer tax dollars.
- On the subject of racial profiling, Armey and Mfume have agreed to cooperate in an effort
to get full congressional support.
- On the issue of slavery in Sudan, Mfume asked that Congress support economic sanctions
against that country.
Other issues discussed included President Bush’s proposal to double the amount of money given to
the National Institutes of Health. Mfume said the NAACP favors a fairness provision as part of any
increase in the NIH budget to assure that research for AIDS and clinical trials are carried out in a
fair and equitable manner.
Mfume hopes to meet with President Bush, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate President
Trent Lott in the near future to discuss these and other issues of importance to the larger African
Mfume added, ” Nothing is ever going to get done without an effort to try to get beyond
differences. The time to cool down inflammatory rhetoric on both sides is now. We must lay the
groundwork to see if the NAACP and the Republican leadership can coexist and cooperate where
possible. If we fail, it will not be for a lack of effort.”
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