GOP Rep. Byron Donalds calls CBC silence on membership delay ‘off-putting’

GOP Rep. Byron Donalds calls CBC silence on membership delay ‘off-putting’

Republican Rep. Byron Donalds expressed frustration Thursday at being prevented from entering the Congressional Black Caucus without a clear indication why.

In an interview on CNN, Donalds (R-Fla.) said his office has “not really heard much from the CBC” in the months since he expressed interest in joining the group and that no one has communicated why he is being kept out.

“I have a perspective being a 42-year-old Black man who’s come up in America after a lot of the battles through the civil rights movement that I think would actually be helpful and a helpful perspective to the CBC,” Donalds said. “Whether they want to take advantage of that is really up to them.”

The CBC’s membership has largely been comprised by Democrats, and while it has included Black Republicans in the past, some have made a point not to join the group. Currently there are no GOP members of Congress in the CBC.

Unlike Donalds, other first-term members were brought into the CBC early this year. A BuzzFeed News report Wednesday pointed to Donalds’ support of former President Donald Trump and his decision to challenge the 2020 presidential election results as factors why he is being shut out, citing a “source familiar with the CBC’s plans.”

Donalds said it was “off-putting” to have those concerns conveyed via a news report rather than to him more directly.

“If my positions and my support of President Trump is a problem for them, let them state that on the record,” he said.

Donalds brushed aside Trump’s history of incendiary comments on the subject of race and the experience of African Americans, saying they have “nothing to do with this discussion at all.”

“As a Black man in America, I’m allowed to have my own thoughts on who I choose to support and who I choose not to support,” he said. “This is whether the ideology of somebody who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s really that simple.”

In a follow-up statement issued Thursday, Donalds said his “political party should not exempt me from a seat at the table.”

“As a young Black man who grew up in the inner city of Brooklyn in a single-parent household, my achieving of the American Dream would be a valued addition to the CBC and one that should transcend politics.”

Donalds told POLITICO in February that he wanted to join the CBC to inject a conservative presence into the overwhelmingly progressive body and reflect the diversity of political ideology among Black Americans.

“I have no problem going into the CBC meeting and having this robust discussion as members of Congress,” he said Thursday. “Let’s have that conversation.”

Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

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