Following the release of the bleak May jobs report, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) said Democrats must "focus more on creating jobs than on reducing the deficit and dealing with the debt ceiling."
The Missouri congressman noted on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" that despite job growth in the private sector, there is "no need in me pretending that this is good news."
Instead of making spending cuts, Cleaver argued the U.S. should be investing in infrastructure.
"We've got to begin to rebuild the infrastructure across the country, and that will create real jobs," he said, citing job creation from a federal transportation deal.
The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said African-Americans are bearing the brunt of the slowing economy, given the unemployment rate for African-Americans is at 16.2%.
"We've got to be able to deal with these problems in the urban core and all around the country, but all we're doing is playing chicken with each other," he said.
The Congressional Black Caucus executive committee recently met with President Obama and emphasized that more jobs need to be created. The congressman said President Obama responded saying, "'Look, I'm going to continue to work on trying to heal the economy, and when I do that, it will make jobs available to all the American public.'"
Congressman Cleaver said he understands the President's response, but he believes action must be taken now.
"Congress has got to quit twiddling and playing politics with each other, or we're going to see the unemployment level rise even more."
The Missouri congressman said the lack of agreement between Democrats and Republicans on how to improve the economy has caused a "disconnect" between the American people and politicians in Washington.
"When I go home, people are concerned about jobs. When I come to Washington, all we talk about is whether or not we're going to raise the debt ceiling."
Cleaver expressed his frustration that advancements have not been made. The United States government "is kind of like a rocking-chair government; a lot of motion, but we are not getting anywhere."