Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.461, the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students Act (PARTNERS), as amended, by a vote of 388 to 6. This bill was led in the House by Representative Alma Adams (D-NC) and 11 bipartisan cosponsors, including Representative Mark Warner (R-NC). Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) leads the bill in the Senate, which still must act on this bill. The measure would codify Executive Order 13779, which seeks to require agencies that regularly interact with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to submit an agency plan to both the Secretary of Education and the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs regarding efforts to strengthen the capacity of HBCUs to participate in relevant federal programs and initiatives.
“This is something which should have happened long ago,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “I applaud Congresswoman Adams for shepherding this bill to the finish line in this Congress, and to complement it, there is much more that must be done. In this next round of stimulus, HBCUs need more relief, like the funding found in the CARES Act. Additionally, institutions with loans from the HBCU Capital Finance program must receive permanent relief.”
“Codifying Executive Order 13779 is an essential first piece of the puzzle to make sure HBCUs receive the funding necessary to be whole,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at UNCF. “When I think about what we as African Americans have experienced this year, with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 as well as the undisputed showcase of racial inequity, we can only be bold in our asks. HBCUs can no longer wait. It is important to bolster HBCU funding in regular appropriations, follow up on funding made in the CARES Act and permanently relieve HBCUs of HBCU Capital Finance Program debt. We see all of those steps as necessary this month, especially considering the level of support HBCUs received at both the Democratic and Republican Conventions this year.”
The HBCU PARTNERS Act also codifies the role of the president’s Board of Advisors, which advises the president of the United States on all matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of HBCUs. This bill is cosponsored by 15 bipartisan senators. A previous version passed the Senate in February of 2019, but now that the bill has been amended both chambers had to act again.