110th Congress shows slight progress on civil rights matters

In its first session Legislative Report Card on the 110th Congress, the NAACP found some improvement in the voting record of members of the U.S. Congress in addressing fundamental civil rights agenda items in 2007.

The NAACP legislative report card is intended to reflect how responsive elected federal officials are to the genuine civil rights needs of all Americans,” said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes.  “Although much has changed in the last 50 years, there is still much to be done. Racism, 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.”

The current report card shows how all 100 voting members of the U.S. Senate voted on 15 recorded votes (out of a total of 442 recorded votes in 2007) and how all 435 voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted on 25 recorded votes (out of a total of 1,177 cast in 2007). Issues ranged from education to labor and economic development to health care and predatory mortgage lending and criminal justice including hate crimes, increased funding for police officers to reducing recidivism, international justice issues and others.

Specifically, 42 percent of Senators received a failing grade and 45 percent of House members received an “F.”  This is an improvement over the last Congress, in which 54 percent of Senators failed and 52 percent of House members got an “F,” according to the latest report card.

“Nearly half of the House and Senate fail on the NAACP’s ‘bread and butter’ civil rights issues in the first session of the 110th 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 are wiling to work hard and do the right thing. The fact that this is a mid-term assessment of the 110th Congress, should serve as encouragement to Congressional leaders and the President to focus on enacting NAACP legislative priorities.”

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 at the close of the second year where a final grade is presented. Complete report cards, including scores of individual members of Congress, can be found on the NAACP website at under the Washington Bureau header.

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 voting patterns of their congressional representatives 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 who care about civil rights about the votes of our elected representatives on legislation of critical importance to the African American community and other friends of civil rights.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

NAACP Legislative Report Card