Civil rights leaders want meeting with top House Republicans

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2015 5:31 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two civil rights leaders on Tuesday asked the House's third-ranking Republican to make a major speech denouncing racism. They also asked to meet with the House's top two Republican leaders to discuss "pressing issues."

The requests were made of Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who apologized last year for speaking in 2002 to a white supremacist group near New Orleans. Scalise said he was unaware of the group's racial philosophy when he agreed to speak as a state legislator.

Scalise met Tuesday with Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League, and Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Morial called it a good meeting but said he still might call for Scalise to resign.

Morial and Henderson issued three requests. They asked Scalise to meet regularly with them to discuss issues such as voting rights and criminal justice reform. They asked him to schedule a meeting with the House's top two Republicans — Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — "to discuss pressing issues facing the nation."

Morial and Henderson also called on Scalise to speak on the House floor to "repudiate the David Duke-type racist and divisive rhetoric and politics of yesterday." Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana legislator who founded the group, called EURO, that Scalise addressed in 2002. Duke did not attend the speech.

Scalise's office did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Morial's statements.