S. E. Williams | Contributor
Washington, D.C. – Senator Kamala Harris adamantly objected when Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Acton Thursday, September 26, 2019.
The bi-partisan legislation previously supported in both legislative chambers was supposed to reauthorize funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions for the next two years in time to beat the expiration of existing funding that as a result of the Republicans blocking the bill, was allowed to expire Monday, September 30.
“Let me be clear,” Harris stated on the Senate floor, “[O]ur work is not done to preserve critical funding for HBCUs and other Minority-Serving Institutions.”
She continued, “As a proud HBCU graduate and co-sponsor of the House-passed FUTURE Act, I strongly support funding and resources for Minority-Serving Institutions. I am disappointed that, for the second time, my Senate colleagues opposed our efforts to pass the FUTURE Act before the funding expires on Monday [September 30, 2019].”
Harris concluded, “I urge my colleagues to act without delay to ensure these institutions are fully supported as they continue to serve the next generation of leaders.”
The measure successfully passed the U.S. House of Representative by unanimous vote on Tuesday, September 24.
The legislation sought the continued provision of $255 million in annual government funding critical to the improvement of academic quality and financial stability for these institutions.
The senate bill was blocked by Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee. Alexander heads the Senate’s Education Committee and claimed he was opting for a longer-term approach.
Alexander’s motive was challenged by Harry L. Williams, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which supports historically Black public colleges.In a statement to the Washington Post when Alexander initially blocked the legislation on September 19, Williams declared, “While we appreciate the proposal for a longer-term or permanent solution … recent congressional history suggests that such a proposal would not receive the requisite approval by both houses of Congress before the [September 30, 2019] deadline.”
Williams was proved right in his assessment.