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Trump Says He’ll Cut Funding For Historically Black Colleges, Gives ‘Unconstitutional’ Reason

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Trump Says He’ll Cut Funding For Historically Black Colleges, Gives ‘Unconstitutional’ Reason

In another move against minorities, Donald Trump signaled Friday that he will not implement a 25-year-old federal program that helps historically black colleges finance construction projects on their campuses, suggesting that it may be “unconstitutional.”

In a signing statement on the $1.1 trillion omnibus government spending bill, Trump singled out the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program as an example of provisions in the funding bill “that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.”

Trump outlined a range of provisions in the spending bill that he says would “unconstitutionally” limit his authority as commander in chief — and indicates that where the bill conflicts with the White House’s interpretation of the president’s powers under the Constitution, he will go with the Constitution, Politico reported.

Trump said his administration would treat those programs “in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the law under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.”’

Trump’s statement also suggests concern about programs listed under the “School Improvement Programs” section of the budget. Those include a wide range of education-related programs, such as after-school initiatives and programs that support Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native education.

Advocates for HBCUs and a legal expert said they were confused by the reference to the HBCU financing program.

Cheryl Smith, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at the United Negro College Fund, also known as UNCF, which advocates for private HBCUs, said in a statement that the organization is “puzzled by this provision and seeking clarification from the White House as to its meaning.”

Smith noted that the federal designation of an institution as an HBCU is not based on race, but rather on mission, accreditation status and the year the institution was established.” She speculated that the “signing statement may simply be the Office of Management and Budget being overly cautious and perhaps not fully understanding this important distinction as it relates to HBCUs, but UNCF needs more information regarding their thinking and intent.”

Under the program, which was created by Congress in 1992, the Education Department provides federally-backed loans to historically black colleges and universities for the construction of buildings and other facilities. The bill provides $20 million in federal loan subsidies in the 2017 fiscal year to support as much as $282 million worth of financing to the schools.

Neither the White House, nor the Education Department immediately responded to a request for comment.

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