Clarksville Online: Lamar Alexander says Senate Democrats Block Permanent Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Posted on November 5, 2019

Senate Democrats today blocked legislation offered by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would permanently fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions.

“The right way to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities is to pass permanent funding for these institutions as part of a package of bills that I’ve introduced, which includes simplifying the FAFSA, a bill that Senator Doug Jones and I have introduced which will help 20 million families including almost every student at HBCUs. The package also includes Pell grants for prisoners and short-term Pell grants,” Alexander said on the Senate floor after Democrats offered to pass House-passed legislation that would only fund Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions for two years.

Alexander continued: “This is not an Alexander proposal. This is a package of proposals by 29 Senators—17 Democrats and 12 Republicans. It’s ready to pass the Senate. It’s ready to be worked on with the House of Representatives and signed by the President.”

Alexander concluded his floor remarks: “We’re not on vacation. I know everybody’s talking about impeachment, but we have lots of students around this country who would like to have a simpler way to go to college. We have lots of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions that would like to have permanent funding.”

“We have lots of employers and potential employees who want a short-term Pell grant. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, simplifying the FAFSA would make 250,000 Americans eligible for the maximum Pell grant. All of that is ready to go. Not by a gimmick, but by a Budget Committee approved method that President Trump and President Obama both had in their budgets.”

And regarding the House-passed legislation, Alexander noted: 

“Unfortunately, that bill is a shortcut the House took, which has no way to pass the Senate. It’s based upon a budget gimmick. It uses a method of funding that many Senators objected to. It creates a new funding cliff within 23 months. It is unnecessary to rush this short-term solution because the Secretary of Education has written all of the heads of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to say that there are sufficient funds until next September, so there is no funding problem.”

Watch Chairman Alexander’s floor speech here.