President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending proposal has already attracted opposition from some moderate Democrats over its exorbitant price tag.
Now, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) is threatening to withhold support for the plan if Biden does not include more funding for historically Black colleges and universities.
As The Hill reported, the North Carolina Democrat complained: “We can’t build back better unless we build our HBCUs back better. Promises made must be promises kept.”
The bill is currently making its way through Congress via the budget reconciliation process, which would allow it to pass with a simple majority.
Although that means the proposal could succeed without any GOP support, it would require Democrats to be united in their support. For her part, Adams claimed that the $2 billion earmarked for research and development grants for HBCUs and minority-serving institutions is far smaller than the original amount proposed by the president.
Along with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), she wrote to the heads of the House and Senate education committees to request $40 billion in funding for such institutions. Thus far, the request has been denied.
Warnock and Adams are both graduates of HBCUs and highlighted perceived discrepancies between funding for those schools and predominantly white institutions.
“Ready, willing and able”
The United Negro College Fund also appeared to support their position, as evidenced in a statement by its president and CEO.
Michael L. Lomax said that HBCUs “should never be put in a position to compete against the more well-resourced institutions that have higher endowments and team of grant writers ready, willing and able to siphon off the funding that the Biden administration imagined would help our institutions.”
There are currently about 100 HBCUs and more than 800 MSIs in the United States.
If Adams can convince three other House Democrats to join her cause, it could be enough to kill the massive bill in the narrowly divided chamber.
Meanwhile, the measure appears to be stalled in the evenly divided Senate as Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have already indicated they would vote against it in its current form. Even a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris might not be enough to save the president’s lofty progressive plan.