Jul 23, 2014 7:17 AM by AP
National Urban League leaders will focus on jobs and pay in U.S. cities during a conference this week that will draw some top Democratic and Republican politicians courting minority support.
Vice President Joe Biden's scheduled speech Thursday headlines the lineup of participants at the conference Wednesday through Sunday in downtown Cincinnati. Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky and the heads of the national GOP and Democratic Party also will take part.
Urban League president Marc Morial said the mayors and other urban leaders at the conference, which has the theme "One Nation Underemployed," will discuss ways to increase employment, education and pay opportunities. He said Washington could take immediate steps by raising the federal minimum wage and investing in jobs-heavy infrastructure projects such as highways and bridges.
"It's the American way of creating jobs," Morial said. "Let's invest in our future, let's invest in our nation, let's invest in our infrastructure."
President Barack Obama has advocated for infrastructure projects and hiking the minimum wage but has run into congressional concerns about more spending and wage increases that some say would hurt businesses and then lead to job losses.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and Democratic Party counterpart Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are among the other speakers. Wal-Mart Stores U.S. Chief William Simon canceled an earlier announced appearance, the conference said.
Priebus has been promoting Republican Party outreach efforts to minority voters, while Paul has also been trying to make inroads among minorities as he considers a possible 2016 presidential bid.
"We're glad they're coming," Morial said. "We want to hear what they have to say."
The Democrat and former New Orleans mayor added that the Urban League is a nonpartisan organization.
"We always like a robust and diverse discussion," he said.
Some 8,000 participants are expected in Cincinnati, a little more than a decade after the Nation Urban League canceled plans to a hold a conference there in the aftermath of 2001 race riots. Morial praised the city's racial progress since then. The league plans to honor former two-term Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory this weekend.
Among other highlights will be an advance screening of the upcoming James Brown biopic, "Get On Up."