WASHINGTON – The NAACP was disappointed in the U.S. Congress’ efforts to address fundamental civil rights agenda items last year, as shown in the Association’s first session 112th Legislative Report Card, drawn from congressional votes recorded in 2011.
“The NAACP Legislative Report Card is intended to reflect how responsive Members of the U.S Senate and House of Representatives have voted on the crucial civil and human rights needs of all Americans,” said NAACP President & CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Although much has changed in the last 50 years, there is still much to be done. Racial discrimination, segregation, bias and disparities continue to plague our nation. We need to understand how and if, our elected federal officials are dealing with these problems.”
Specifically, 46 percent of Senators received a failing Report Card grade and more than 55 percent of House members received a grade of “F”.
The 112th Report Card shows how all 100 voting members of the U.S. Senate voted on 15 NAACP National Legislative Priorities (out of a total of 235 recorded Senate votes cast in 2011) and how all 435 voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on 20 of the NAACP’s National Legislative Priorities (out of a total of 949 House votes). Issues ranged from education to labor, economic development to health care, and collective bargaining to criminal justice and voting rights initiatives. The Report Card contains votes taken during the first session of the 112th Congress, which began January 5, 2011 and ended December 23, 2011.
The votes selected for inclusion in the NAACP Legislative Report Card are those that have been considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Legislation that did not progress beyond the committee level is not included. The Report Card is updated and distributed to NAACP members twice each Congress.
“More than half of the members of U.S. Congress scored failing grades on the NAACP’s Legislative Report Card, reflecting the ‘bread and butter’ civil rights issues, as voted upon in the first session of the 112th Congress,” said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary O. Shelton. “The fact that the federal government touches almost every aspect of our lives, from health and education to criminal justice and economic stability, means that they have the power to make improvements in the lives of almost every American, if they simply exercise their political will to work hard and address the real issues and concerns of the American people. The fact that this is a mid-term assessment of the 112th Congress, should serve as encouragement to congressional leaders to focus on enacting an agenda that will truly address the challenges the American people are facing before the end of the session.”
As each Congress lasts two years, the NAACP Legislative Report Card is issued at the end of the first year, offering a mid-term assessment, and also at the close of the second year providing a final grade reflecting the work of that full Congress.
Since 1914, the NAACP Legislative Report Card has presented a summation of key civil rights votes taken in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. It is designed to provide NAACP members with insight into the general voting patterns of their congressional representatives over the course of the legislative year, and is intended to be used as a non-partisan educational tool. Information contained within the Report Card is intended to be useful in efforts to educate NAACP members, and other Americans, on civil rights votes of critical importance to the African American community and other friends of civil rights.