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A Black freshman Republican from Florida said Thursday that the Congressional Black Caucus has been rebuffing his efforts to join the group.
“The Congressional Black Caucus has a stated commitment to ensuring Black Americans have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. As a newly elected Black Member of Congress, my political party should not exempt me from a seat at the table dedicated to achieving this goal,” Rep. Byron Donalds told NBC News in an email Thursday following a report in BuzzFeed that he'd been blocked from joining the influential group.
Asked if the caucus was indeed blocking Donalds, who voted to challenge last year's election results in states Donald Trump lost and has supported Republican efforts to change voting laws since the election, a spokesperson suggested he didn't share the group's values — while not mentioning his name.
“The Congressional Black Caucus remains committed to fighting for issues that support Black communities, including the police accountability bill, protecting voting rights, and a jobs bill that helps our communities," the spokesperson said. "We will work with those who share our values and priorities for the constituents we serve.”
Donalds told CNN he would bring value to the 56-member group, which is officially nonpartisan but has had only a handful of Republican lawmakers as members since its founding in 1971.
"I think having a wider range of discussions from all sides of the political framework is important. Not just for Black America but all America," Donalds told the network, while shrugging off his support of Trump's voter fraud claims as "irrelevant" and having "nothing to do with this discussion."
"This is whether the ideology of somebody who is conservative is welcome in the Congressional Black Caucus. It's really that simple," he continued.
The other Black Republican in the House, Burgess Owens of Utah, also is not a member of the group.
A rep for Donalds said he'd been trying to join the group for months.
“Since starting in Congress, our office and the congressman have engaged with several CBC members expressing his interest in joining, but all we've got is the cold shoulder," his spokesman said. "The sad reality is although the congressman and those in the CBC share the same race, the (R) behind his name disqualifies him from membership today."
Donalds' office also noted that he's sponsored multiple bipartisan bills, but a number of House Democrats have vowed not to work with Republicans who backed Trump's false election fraud claims.