Black lawmakers are putting pressure on the Democratic Party's leadership in regards to the Biden Administration's $3.5 trillion social spending package proposal. Initially, the package included $45 billion for historically Black colleges and universities. However, more recent iterations of the proposal have cut proposed funding for HBCUs down to $2 billion. In response, several Democratic lawmakers have threatened to withhold their votes when the bill hits the House floor. During a recent interview, Rep. Frederica Wilson told The Hill that she is “prepared to vote against” the proposal if HBCU funding is not increased.
“I would definitely be moving in that direction,” Wilson explained.
“There's no question about it. That's how strongly I feel about it.”
If Rep. Frederica Wilson and her colleagues, Reps. Alma Adams and Terri Sewell, were to withhold their votes that could spell trouble for the Democratic Party. While the Democratic Party does hold the majority of seats within the U.S. House Representatives, their majority is relatively thin. With a number of moderate Democrats on the fence due to drug pricing, the $3.5 trillion social spending package is very much in jeopardy.
Beyond the scope of Congress, a number of leaders at historically Black institutions and HBCU advocacy groups have become fed up with the $43 billion drop in funding. Lodriguez Murray of the United Negro College Fund recently told The Hill that HBCUs “are not treated well in the bill to give them the springboard" to compete with prestigious predominantly white institutions.
“Forty-five billion was for research and development infrastructure,” he said as he referenced previous iterations of the social spending package.
“And so now to go from $45 billion for that purpose, which would have been a big enough pie for all the different types of institutions to compete for ... to go down to a $2 billion pot. That's quite the juxtaposition."
Moving forward, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott will continue to raise the concerns of lawmakers with the Democratic Party's leadership. He assures voters that the issue will be resolved before the proposal hits the House Floor.
“It's wrong. It needs to be changed," he said.