McCarthy reverses on GOP leadership decision to skip Selma events.
‘They’ve lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care,’ one black lawmaker says.McCarthy announced late Friday he would attend, according to CNN. “It is very disappointing that not a single Republican leader sees the value in participating in this 50th commemoration of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. I had hoped that some of the leadership would attend, but apparently none of them will,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina. “The Republicans always talk about trying to change their brand and be more appealing to minority folks and be in touch with the interests of African-Americans. This is very disappointing.”
Former CBC Chair Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio) agreed.
“Not only do they have an opportunity to participate in something that is historic in this country, but certainly they’ve lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care,” she said. “Their loss.” Black leaders in Congress pressured Scalise to attend the Faith and Politics Institute event after news reports revealed that the Louisiana Republican gave a speech to a group connected with Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when Scalise was still serving in the state Legislature. Scalise said late last month that a scheduling conflict would keep him from Selma this year but that he hoped to attend in 2016. Sennate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will also miss the event.
Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who participated in the 1965 march alongside Martin Luther King Jr., said he was disappointed that House Republican leaders wouldn’t make the trip. Former President George W. Bush and his wife are expected to attend Saturday’s ceremonies, as is President Barack Obama.
“I wish we had someone in the [Republican] leadership going,” Lewis said. “President Bush is going to be there, but I think it would have been fitting and appropriate for them to make a trip.” Lawmakers awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the 1965 marchers on Monday, ahead of the 50th anniversary event. Click here to read more.