HBCUs finally get their due
The White House’s almost-$3 billion investment reverses the chronic underfunding of these vital institutions. Plus: The personal toll of the crisis in Ukraine on administration officials.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST
The Department of Education on Monday announced a state-by-state breakdown of over $2.7 billion in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.
“HBCUs create pathways to opportunity for Black students and foster academic excellence throughout our nation,” the White House said in the announcement. “This infusion of federal funding — among the largest ever in the country’s HBCUs — is a key part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to shared prosperity and equity for all Americans.”
It’s been well-documented how chronically underfunded HBCUs are. For generations, state legislatures have treated the institutions as inferior directing higher education funding away from the schools to other PWIs, or predominately white institutions.
And as Kristen Broady, Andre M. Perry, and Carl Romer at the Brookings Institute reported in August 2021: Underfunding HBCUs leads to an underrepresentation of Black faculty.
In recent years, fueled by the season of solidarity after George Floyd was killed and the election of Vice President Kamala Harris, a graduate of Howard University in Washington DC, the mainstream perception of HBCUs has started to catch up with the reverence they receive from most of the Black community.
The funds were provided through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). And the ARP requires half of the resources be used to provide direct relief to students, although the Education Department expects far more will be used for that purpose.
The White House said thousands of colleges and universities all across the country are HEERF to keep students enrolled and on track to graduate. HBCUs have also worked to make college more affordable through emergency grants, discharges of outstanding student debt or unpaid balances and the elimination of transcript withholding practices.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reporters on a press call that HEERF funds enabled 93 percent of students to provide emergency aid to students at risk of dropping out, according to a survey of college presidents, including those who lead HBCUs.
University administrators also used the HEERF funds to make their facilities COVID-safe and expand the range of available majors to students. (81 percent of colleges, according to Cardona, citing the aforementioned survey, used the funds to purchase tests, conduct health screenings and meet other urgent public health needs.)
“These findings underscore how the American Rescue Plan, with President Biden’s leadership, has helped colleges serve their students and communities,” Cardona said.
What you’re probably curious to know though is if the Biden administration plans to cancel student loan debt, a campaign promise the president has unfulfilled in the first year-plus of his term.
Psaki was asked last week if the president was considering further extending the student loan moratorium, which ends in May.
She said the White House continues to assess and review the moratorium as May gets closer.
Psaki did note that there’s a period of time when the administration would need to make a decision or convey to lenders what they should prepare for.
But she stopped short of making a prediction of what borrowers should expect later this spring.
The White House has repeatedly called on Congress to pass legislation that cancels up to $10,000 per borrower. But that’s not happening anytime soon.
Progressive Democrats say Biden can provide relief to borrowers through executive action and is hiding behind the congressional gridlock instead of fulfilling his campaign commitment.
But White House officials are quick to point to $12.7 billion in student debt the Education Department has discharged or is in the process of discharging by improving, extending or expanding programs that already exist. These efforts, Cory Turner at NPR, impact 638 borrowers. (FWIW, 46 million Americans have $1.6 trillion in federal student loans.)
The announcement on HBCU investments is part of the White House’s broader campaign on Monday to highlight ARP investments in higher education.
In addition to HBCUs, the ARP also invested $10 billion to over 1,000 community colleges and $190 million went to Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs). $11 billion and $5 billion were sent to Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs), respectively.
Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs), which colleges and universities founded after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and provide access to higher education for low and middle-income Black and other minority families in and around urban communities, received almost $1 billion.
It’s worth noting that the American Rescue Plan was passed as an economic stimulus plan to accelerate the economic recovery from and public health response to the pandemic.
I’m curious to see if the federal government will still invest in these institutions once we’ve survived the pandemic.
Psaki reflects on the personal toll of the crisis in Ukraine
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked during Monday’s briefing how President Biden in particular and the White House staff in general are processing the images coming out of Ukraine.
The question followed the publication of a graphic image on the front page of the New York Times of four Ukrainian civilians, including two children, who were killed by Russian weaponry as they were attempting to flee. Lynsey Addario, an NYT photographer took the image.
Be advised: The image on the other side of this link contains visual coverage of injury or death.
Psaki said she was unsure if the president had seen the photo.
“He is also a father, a grandfather. I don’t know that anyone, including him, has seen those photos and not been moved,” she said. “And I’m sure I can speak personally that, you know, talking to my neighbors, my in-laws, I’m sure this is true for all of you as well: The personal impact people have felt in this country — it’s really moved people in this country.”
Earlier in the briefing, acknowledged that there are limitations to the US response, no matter how heart-wrenching the images may been, due to President Biden’s commitment to not send American troops to fight in Ukraine against Russia.
“What we are doing and what he is doing is continuing to take every step to provide them security assistance,” Psaki said. “We have also provided economic, humanitarian assistance. And I think any world leader would tell you that without the President’s leadership and without the United States rallying the world to hold Russia accountable, there would not be the kind of accountability, pressure on the financial system in Russia.”
One more thing: In yesterday’s PM newsletter, I listed Russia’s three demands of Ukraine to end its invasion.
A few moments after the issue went to press, ABC announced an exclusive interview with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, who characterized Russia’s demands as an ultimatum.
“And we are not prepared for ultimatums,” Zelenskyy said.
He also added that a resolution will require Russian President Vladimir Putin to start a dialogue instead of living in an information bubble devoid of dissenting points of view.
“I think that’s where he is. He is in this bubble,” Zelenskyy said of Putin. “He’s getting this information and you don’t know how realistic that information is that he’s getting.”
TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing before traveling to Fort Worth, Texas to visit a Veterans Affairs clinic and speak with VA health care providers. Biden will also discuss the different challenges facing the community with veterans and patient advocates. Then he’ll speak on expanding access to health care and benefits for veterans affected by military environmental exposures. Biden will return to DC this evening. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough will join the president and speak as well.
— First Lady Jill Biden this afternoon will visit the San Xavier Health Center in the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona to promote the administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will join Dr. Biden on the trip. Later today, the first lady and Sec. Becerra will participate in a local celebration of Women’s History Month with Democratic Mayor Regina Romero of Tucson and several local residents.
— The House is in and will continue work to pass a comprehensive government funding bill ahead of Friday night’s deadline.
A Judiciary Subcommittee will hold a hearing on public safety in the COVID-19 era.
A separate Judiciary Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the need for a Supreme Court code of ethics.
The Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on inflation.
The Budget Committee will hold a hearing on ensuring women can thrive in a post-pandemic economy.
— The Senate is in and will take a final vote on legislation to reform the US Postal Service.
The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the rise in hate crimes.
IN THE KNOW
— One student is dead and two remain in critical condition after a shooting outside a local high school in Des Moines, Iowa. [Andrea Sahouri / Des Moines Register]
— The Senate passed legislation, named after Emmitt Till, that will make lynching a federal hate crime.
It’s wild to be typing those words in 2022. But progress deferred is still progress.
“After more than 200 failed attempts to outlaw lynching, Congress is finally succeeding in taking the long-overdue action by passing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in floor speech ahead of the vote. “Hallelujah. It’s long overdue.”
The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
— More than seven in 10 Americans say they would support a ban on Russian oil even if it meant higher gasoline prices in the US. [Quinnipiac University]
White House officials said on Monday that the president has not made a decision on the ban, but Congress is expected to take up legislation this week that could do so.
56 percent of Americans said the steps that the Biden administration has taken so far to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine aren’t tough enough. 30 percent say they are about right and three percent say they are too tough.
— Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Caucus on Monday met separately with senior staff at the White House.
A White House official said that this is the beginning of a series of meetings with congressional caucuses following the State of the Union address to discuss shared priorities goals.
President Biden joined for part of both meetings.
— The Supreme Court denied requests from Republicans challenging congressional maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. [Ariane de Vogue / CNN]
The maps had been approved by lower courts.
The decision could net the congressional Democrats at least another seat in NC next year
— Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said healthy kids shouldn’t get the COVID vaccine, a direct contradiction to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Emily L. Mahoney and Kirby Wilson / Tampa Bay Times]
The White House said that Ladapo is pedaling yet another conspiracy theory.
The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.
— The 2021 mover rate was lower than all prior mover rates from 1948 to 2020, marking a new historical low. [Kristin Kerns-D’amore, Joey Marshall and Brian Mckenzie / Census Bureau]
In other words: The pandemic did not disrupt what’s already been a downward trend.
Housing-related reasons were cited for moving by nearly half of all movers in 2021 cited. These reasons were also most prevalent from 2017 to 2021.
Family-related reasons and job-related reasons were the next most prevalent.
The relative share of movers crossing state lines increased from 2020 to 2021. But the share of movers from abroad declined, which the Bureau says may be related to international travel restrictions during the pandemic.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
— Henry Grabar on why crime went down during the pandemic but cities got more dangerous:
Even as street crime fell, the risk of being a victim of a crime rose between 15 and 30 percent over the previous year, depending on which measure of “outdoor activity” was used. In short, if you spent time in public, you were more likely to be robbed or assaulted in public in 2020 than in 2019.
— Melissa Murray on Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would become the Supreme Court’s second working mom if confirmed:
Whatever the reason, discussion of Judge Jackson’s bona fides as a working mother has been notably absent among Democrats, who have instead been focusing on the consequential nature of her nomination. But critically, those qualities have also made her a target of the right. Already, Republican leaders have sniped about Mr. Biden’s pledge to nominate a Black woman, ignoring — or, in the case of Tucker Carlson, challenging — her superlative credentials and record of public service. It will surely get worse as the confirmation process begins in earnest.
— Stacy Cowley and Lananh Nguyen on Zelle, the payments platform used by millions of customers, is a popular target of scammers:
It’s hard to tell exactly how much fraud takes place through Zelle because banks aren’t required to publicly report their losses. Banks say they take fraud seriously and are constantly making adjustments to improve security. But police reports and dispatches from industry analysts make it clear that the network has become a preferred tool for grifters like romance scammers, cryptocurrency con artists and those who prowl social media sites advertising concert tickets and purebred puppies — only to disappear with buyers’ cash after they pay.
— Yang Jie on why suppliers can’t mention the maker of iPhones by name:
In contrast to Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter series, the Client Who Must Not Be Named doesn’t cast deadly spells or converse with serpents. Its powers, nonetheless, are fearsome. It can award — or take away — contracts for electronic parts and services worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
— Elizabeth Spiers on the two classes of journalists:
[T]he ones who have tenure, and the ones who don’t. The tenured lifers think they don’t need to brand build — even though they do, every day — because they know they’re protected by their institutions. They can afford to roll their eyes at the idea and behave as it’s gauche to promote your own work for two reasons: they don’t believe they’ll ever need to operate outside of their institutions because they have job security, and they also take for granted the army of colleagues they have that promote their work for them. [NYT reporter Maggie] Haberman doesn’t have to be extremely online all the time (though she is, at least on Twitter) because she has a team of audience people who promote her work on social media, a team of circulation professionals who work to expand the paper’s (and by extension her) reach, people in the comms department who help with things like TV booking. She has to do less work to brand herself because other people do it.
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