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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver Elected Black Caucus Chair

Eric L. Wesson | 11/18/2010, 11:40 a.m.

Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II was elected by acclamation as the 22nd chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the group's organizational meeting Wednesday.

Cleaver, who recently fought off a challenge for the Fifth Congressional District by Republican Tea Party candidate Jacob Turk, who was defeated by Cleaver for the third time. Cleaver gathered 53 percent of the vote.

Cleaver has been instrumental in creating jobs in the Kansas City area with the "Green Zone," which created jobs and job training programs in the area of infrastructure and home weatherization in its most economically depressed area.

Cleaver's elevation to the powerful post in just six years is being viewed as remarkable. But he is humbled by the selection.

"I am humbled and honored by my colleagues' support, and I plan to prove myself worthy of their endorsement," said chairman-elect Cleaver. "I owe a deep debt to our current Chair, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for her steadfast leadership. I have learned much from her estimable example. I look forward to working with all my colleagues of all creeds, colors, parties and ideologies as we begin the 112th Congress in 2011."

"Our mission, since our founding in 1969, is clear: To promote the public welfare through legislation designed to meet the needs of millions of neglected citizens," he said. "As the conscience of the Congress, our work is never done. As you know, our numbers continue to increase; the CBC is now the largest caucus and arguably the most powerful among democratic ranks. But we must remember that there is more power in an open hand than a closed fist."

Rep. Lee (D-Calif.), who will remain chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus until January 2011, applauded the election of chairman-elect Cleaver, calling him a strong and capable leader.

"As First Vice Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cleaver oversaw our Jobs Taskforce and played an integral role in crafting and implementing our legislative and messaging strategy on a host of issues, from health care reform and the economic recovery to climate change and Wall Street reform," said Lee.

Lee said it has been an honor to chair the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus for the past two years as the caucus worked together to confront the many pressing issues facing the American people.

"While we have had many successes on a host of issues, there remains much more important work to do in the upcoming Congress, and I am confident that the incoming CBC executive officers are more than up to the challenge," said Lee.

Other CBC members elected to leadership posts include:

- Del. Donna M. Christensen (VI) - First Vice Chair
- Rep. G.K. Butterfield (NC) - Second Vice Chair
- Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY) - Secretary
- Rep. Andre Carson (IN) - Whip

Cleaver entered politics 30 years ago and was elected to City Council in Kansas City, where he served 12 years before voters passed term limits in city government. He was then elected mayor of Kansas City, where he served two terms, and tremendous economic development took place in the Kansas City area.

Cleaver, a Methodist minister, is the representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Belton, Raymore and Peculiar. He is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, House Homeland Security Committee and the Speaker's Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

He will hold the post during the re-election bid of President Barack Obama - and says he is looking forward to that.