Showdown Over HBCU Funding Escalates in Senate

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A SENATE SHOWDOWN OVER how to fund historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions escalated Tuesday, with Democrats offering a short-term extension that already cleared the House and Republicans proposing a permanent funding mechanism as part of a larger package of bipartisan higher education proposals.

The dueling legislative strategies, both offered under unanimous consent and objected to on the Senate floor, are the latest developments in an ongoing game of chicken between the two sides of the aisle with each hoping the other blinks first. They come after federal funding for HBCUs expired Oct. 1, when Congress failed to extend it.

[ READ: Lamar Alexander’s Education-Reform Gambit Threatens HBCU Funding ]
Senate Republicans have refused to consider a two-year extension House Democrats passed in September, objecting to how it’s paid for, and are instead leveraging the time-sensitive situation by attaching the HBCU funding to a new piece of legislation that includes several bipartisan measures to partially update the Higher Education Act. Democrats, for their part, have refused to back the package of bipartisan proposals on grounds that it would dash any hopes of Congress passing a more comprehensive reauthorization of the federal higher education law, which hasn’t been updated for more than a decade and for which there are ongoing bipartisan negotiations.

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