WASHINGTON - U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, has kept silent as other black lawmakers have grown increasingly critical of President Barack Obama on issues ranging from Afghanistan and health care to job creation and broader efforts to spark the economy.
Clyburn finds himself in the middle. He's a strong supporter of the White House and a critical Obama ally in Congress. But Clyburn is also a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. And some of its members have been pointedly critical of the president.
Already angered by Obama's refusal to target more money for minority communities hit hard by the recession, many black lawmakers oppose his escalation of the Afghanistan war and his apparent willingness to sacrifice a public option in medical insurance to gain final passage of a health care bill.
"The frustration levels in various minority communities are very high," Clyburn said.
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