House Dem Threatens Reconciliation Over HBCU Funding

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

Democratic North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams is the latest member of her party to threaten President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.

“We can’t build back better unless we build our HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] back better. Promises made must be promises kept,” Adams, a co-chair of the HBUC Caucus told Punchbowl News on Friday. She is reportedly willing to hold up the entire package over its funding levels for HBCUs.

Biden promised $55 billion to HBCUs when he announced his American Jobs Plan on March 31 as part of his government-wide focus on racial equity. However, committee markups of the Build Back Better Act allocated only $2 billion to HBCUs, The Washington Post reported.

Adams, a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University and former professor at Bennett College, repeatedly called for increased HBCU funding via Twitter.

“We must ensure that HBCUs receive a fair and equitable piece of the pie,” she told The Washington Post on Sept. 10. “We cannot repeat mistakes that have been made in other federal programs where they are forced to compete with institutions that do not share the same legacy of discrimination and neglect.”

Adams did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.

Adams joins a growing list of House Democrats who have threatened to oppose the Build Back Better Act. Also Friday, four New Jersey Democrats, Josh Gottheimer, Mikie Sherrill, Bill Pascrell and Tom Malinowski pledged to oppose reconciliation unless the package includes a full repeal of the State and Local Tax deduction cap. Progressives led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have opposed eliminating the cap since doing so would primarily benefit wealthier residents.

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy said Sept. 9 that she could not support provisions of the package in the Ways and Means Committee unless she sees the “bill in its entirety.” Keeping with her promise, Murphy was the only Democrat who voted against advancing the bill from committee Thursday.

She called on the final bill to be “appropriately targeted and fiscally responsible.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee blocked a provision of the reconciliation package that would have created a price control mechanism for prescription drugs after three committee Democrats voted with all 26 Republicans. Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and left-wing members of the Democratic caucus had pushed the provision, arguing that it would lower healthcare costs, but opponents expressed concern that it would harm innovation. (RELATED: Biden Pushes Congress To Lower Cost Of Prescription Drugs)

In the Senate, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN on Sept. 12 that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “will not have my vote on $3.5 trillion, and Chuck knows that.” A Wednesday Oval Office meeting with Biden reportedly did nothing to sway Manchin, who has previously said that $1.5 trillion is the most money he could support.