The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said Wednesday that its members had voted to reject an invitation to meet with President Trump, claiming that the administration's policies are causing "legitimate alarm" among African-American lawmakers and their constituents.
CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., wrote in a letter to Trump that proposals in the president's budget would "not only devastate the communities that we represent, but also many of the communities that supported your candidacy."
Richmond specifically cited proposed cuts to Pell Grants for low-income college students and eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps seniors and others on fixed incomes heat their homes. He claimed those cutbacks would "destroy minority communities, all while your Administration and Congressional Republicans consider proposals to provide tax cuts for the richest Americans."
The chairman also criticized the Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, claiming the Affordable Health Care Act passed by the House last month would "strip millions of black people of their health care."
Richmond said the caucus had expressed its concern several times, including in eight letters and a document, but the administration has failed to respond. Trump and top members of the caucus met in March, but Richmond said there has been no follow-through on promises like helping black lawmakers meet with Trump's Cabinet.
"The CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under your administration," Richmond wrote. "I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for."
"We want to talk and deal with issues that are of concern to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and we've not gotten any response," Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., told the Associated Press. "My opinion and the opinion of most of just about all of the members of the CBC is that the board met (with Trump). They gave him substantive issues which we wanted to deal with and they have not been dealt with."
Meeks added, "Until we can deal with substance and issues, what's the benefit of a meeting?"
The Congressional Black Caucus has 49 members, all but one of whom are Democrats.
Richmond's letter was in response to a June 9 invitation from White House aide Omarosa Manigault, who won fame as a contestant on "The Apprentice," Trump's long-running reality show.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.