New Progressive and young members could have a major impact on the Congressional Black Caucus. Next year, the roughly 50-member CBC could usher in a half-dozen or more members, a stark generational shift for an institution that is skewing younger and more liberal. Still, its senior members — who are deeply respected within the broader Democratic Party — argue that the group’s vision won’t be fundamentally altered simply by the jolt of next year’s freshman class.
The CBC has already undergone seismic changes over the past year, reeling from the deaths of icons John Lewis and Elijah Cummings. And with Clay voted out, the institutional knowledge of the CBC will be further depleted next Congress.
The CBC has also found itself on the defensive amid rising forces on the left. The caucus faced backlash from progressive groups over its long-standing practice of endorsing White incumbents who’ve been strong allies to the CBC in races against Black primary challengers, including this summer’s fierce battle between Engel and Bowman.
Not everyone is seriously concerned about the prospect of change. Several CBC members pointed out that the group, which already has many younger members, is already slowly undergoing generational changes.
CBC staffers say the group is not a monolith — with members from downtown Los Angeles to rural upstate New York — and that any new voices will only amplify the caucus’ influence in Congress. And a senior aide close to the caucus echoed the thoughts of younger members in the group, saying it’s probably time for the CBC to “shake the dust off.”