Senators Scott And Coons Unveil Bipartisan Bill For Federal Agencies To Better Engage And Invest In HBCUs

The HBCU Partners Act hopes to officially make a 2017 executive order signed by the president into law.

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| February 08 2019,

6:13 pm

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) have co-sponsored a new bill meant to formalize and strengthen the relationship between historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and government agencies. 

Appropriately named the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (HBCU PARTNERS) Act, the legislation would turn a 2017 executive order from President Donald Trump that instructed government institutions to work alongside HBCUs to locate opportunities for federal grants and government contracts for students into a law.

Scott, the Senate's only Black Republican, announced the news on Wednesday during his annual HBCU fly-in event. An official statement from his office lauded the accomplishments of Black Americans "who came before us" as catalysts for the bill's conception.

"Today was a great way to kick off Black History Month as we welcomed America's more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to our nation's Capital," Scott's statement reads. "Black history is American history and we all stand on the shoulders of great men and women who came before us paving a way forward."

Democratic co-sponsor Coons echoed Scott's sentiments with a statement of his own.

"HBCUs today continue their tradition of opening higher education to new generations of students," Coons said. "They educate 300,000 students across the country, 70 percent of whom receive Pell grants, and charge almost 30 percent less tuition that their peer institutions. I'm proud to make sure that federal agencies actively work to support HBCUs' critical missions."

Coons' statement notes similar bipartisan legislation was brought forward on the House side by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC). In a statement on the House bill, Adams mentioned the legislation would protect HBCUs from the possibility a president enters office who wants to roll back Trump's executive order.

"This bill will require every administration to strategically engage and invest in HBCUs," Adams said. "These institutions provide over $15 billion annually to our economy and have provided pathways of opportunity for millions of Americans, particularly low-income and first generation college students."

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