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Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski

Members of Maryland's congressional delegation met at the White House on Wednesday to discuss ways the Obama administration can continue to address the recent unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who called the meeting, and Sen. Ben Cardin along with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake met with senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson as well as the secretaries of Education and Housing and Urban Development, according to the White House.

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In an interview following the meeting, Mikulski said the officials discussed current-year spending and programs that could benefit the city -- with an emphasis on summer jobs programs. The departments of Labor and Education are considering a jobs training program similar to one implemented in the weeks after last year's unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

"This conversation was to talk about what are the resources that the White House could bring together as Baltimore deals with the issues of immediate consequence -- like for summer jobs programs -- as well as long-range consequences," said Mikulski, who is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Though Mikulski did not offer specifics, she said the meeting broadly covered criminal justice reform, mental health, housing, education and employment. She said Obama administration officials discussed programs and initiatives city leaders could apply for now.

"They had excellent ideas," Mikulski said.

Mikulski's meeting came as the appropriations process for the next fiscal year is getting underway in Congress, and she hinted that the meeting could help to set priorities for her to pursue in coming weeks. But that effort could prove difficult: Hours before the meeting House Republicans approved a spending bill that reduced Obama's request for police cameras and community policing initiatives.

The Obama administration has taken several steps in Baltimore since the riots late last month following the death of Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, as well as Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have visited the city.

The Department of Justice has launched investigations into Gray's death and the city Police Department, and this month committed millions of dollars to cities to expand the use of body cameras worn by officers.

Jarrett, a longtime senior adviser to Obama, has been in contact with Gov. Larry Hogan and Rawlings-Blake. Soon after the looting, Jarrett spoke with Larry J. Merlo, the CEO of CVS, about the stores damaged by looters. The company plans to rebuild the stores.

The Obama administration also reached out to celebrities with ties to the city in the days after the riots and asked them to play a role in helping to ease tensions. Sports figures such as New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who played basketball at Towson Catholic High School, and former Ravens star Ray Lewis embraced the requests.

Mikulski dismissed attention paid to an interview she gave earlier on Wednesday when she declined to describe the unrest on April 27 as "riots." She later apologized in a radio interview, saying she did not intend to minimize what had happened.

"No matter what you call it," she told The Sun, "it's a call to action."

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