In late January, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) reported that over 50% of the members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were graded "F" on the NAACP's key civil rights agenda reflected in votes taken during the first session of the 109th Congress. The voting session ran from January 4 through December 22, 2005. The legislative report card cites 233 of the 435 voting House Members and 52 of the 100 Senators received an "F" grade.
Bruce S. Gordon, NAACP President and CEO, said, "Since 1914 the NAACP Legislative Report Card has served as a non-partisan assessment of how the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives vote on the core civil rights issues. It provides an evaluation of how well each member of Congress worked to advance an agenda that would strengthen and enforce policies that secure every American's right to full first class citizenship."
The report card shows that of the 100 voting Senators, three received a "D", four received a "C" and twelve Senators received a "B". The remaining 29 voted in support of the NAACP's grassroots based civil rights priorities 90% or more of the time, thus receiving an "A" grade.
In the House of Representatives, seven members received a "D" grade, while 58 of the Representatives received a "C" or a "B" grade. The remaining 133 of the Representatives received an "A" grade for supporting key civil rights initiatives 90 to 100% of the time. Votes in both the Senate and House were cast, among others, on education, healthcare, criminal justice, housing, environmental justice, civil liberties and the budget. Four members received "incompletes" as they did not serve the entire first session.
Hilary Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau, said, "We are extremely disappointed that the full Congress does not demonstrate a stronger commitment to a comprehensive civil rights agenda that protects all Americans' civil rights, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation."
"The NAACP's report card is updated and distributed twice in each Congress and each Congress is two years long," said Shelton. "Congress has the chance, and frankly the obligation, to strengthen and advance America's civil rights laws. These bills reflect policies that, if implemented, would work to improve America's public schools, repair the criminal justice system, increase opportunities to attend college, bring integrity to the confirmation of federal judges that respect the rule of the law in a diverse nation and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans."
The full report card is available at the NAACP website link below. The final report card for the 109th Congress will be issued at the end of the second session when Congress adjourns in the fall of 2006.
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