HBCU Caucus grows as 8 senators join bipartisan group
Eight new members have been named to the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus during last week’s National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week.
The senators joining the organization are Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) Cory Book (D-N.J.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). They bring the total caucus membership to 62.
Schumer is the minority leader in the Senate, and Kaine was Hillary Clinton’s running mate during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The caucus is led by co-chairs U.S. Reps. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) and Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.).
“Our membership and advocacy have grown exponentially,” Adams said in a statement. “I’m proud to be working with Senator Booker to introduce a Senate companion bill to the House Bipartisan HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act.
“Capital financing is a priority for HBCUs and now we have members in both the House and the Senate who are committed to passing this and other important legislation,” she added.
The Capital Financing Improvement Act provides low-cost private loans to historically Black colleges and universities to finance infrastructure repairs, maintenance and construction.
Adams, a graduate of North Carolina A&T University, is also the founder of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus that began in 2015. The group promotes and protects the interests of HBCUs by educating the 535 members of Congress and their staff, as well as drafting legislation to address the needs of the schools.
“We realize that HBCUs often face a unique set of challenges, which is why we have been working to help create meaningful policies that address these issues so HBCUs can focus on what they do best — increasing access and career opportunities for their students,” Schumer said in a statement.
“We have several thousand HBCU alumni in New York alone, and the impact and presence is certainly felt in our communities and beyond,” he added.
Scott commented in a statement: “I’m excited to be part of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus that is working both to highlight the importance of our country’s HBCUs and with the institutions’ leadership to ensure they remain a top choice for our aspiring students.”
“Today, HBCUs serve nearly 300,000 students a year, and produce graduates that go on to serve in prominent roles across our great nation. We must embrace our HBCUs not only for their historical relevance, but also for the amazing future that lays in store for their graduates,” he said.
The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities held a conference from Sept. 17 to 19 in Washington, D.C. The White House announced former NFL player Johnathan M. Holifield, who did not attend an HBCU, as the executive director of the initiative last week.
“Given the wide range of opportunities and challenges facing our nation’s HBCUs, it is exciting to see so many members of Congress showing interest in improving and promoting our HBCUs,” Byrne said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing my work with Representative Adams to expand the size and influence of our Caucus on Capitol Hill.”