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Congress Passes Kaine Cosponsored Bill to Strengthen Partnerships between HBCUs and Federal Agencies

Legislation will now go to the President for signature

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congress passed the HBCU Propelling Agency Relationships Towards a New Era of Results for Students (PARTNERS) Act, legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine to strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and the country’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including the five HBCUs in Virginia. The bill is now on its way to the President’s desk for signature. 

“HBCUs play a crucial role in providing students a quality education. It’s important that they have the resources to help students succeed,” Kaine said. “I’m glad to see this bipartisan legislation make its way to the President’s desk.”

The HBCU PARTNERS Act will require federal agencies with relevant grants and programs to undertake annual planning and coordinate their efforts to support and expand HBCU participation in those programs. The bill strengthens the rigor and transparency requirements of existing law by requiring that agencies track their progress toward past goals and share their plans with Congress. In addition, it codifies the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs, ensuring an ongoing avenue for the institutions’ priorities and policy concerns to be raised.

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and member of the Senate HBCU Caucus, Senator Kaine has long focused his efforts on supporting HBCUs. In July, Kaine introduced the Expanding Medical Education Act to help address the lack of representation of rural students, underserved students, and students of color in the physician pipeline by providing grants to colleges and universities to establish or expand medical schools in underserved areas or at minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs. Last year, Kaine successfully pushed to get the FUTURE Act signed into law to restore $255 million annually in federal funding for HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Additionally, Kaine helped secure $93 million in critical funding to strengthen HBCUs and MSIs as part of the December 2019 government spending deal.

The legislation was sponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tim Scott (R-SC). In addition to Kaine, the HBCU PARTNERS Act was also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-AL), David Perdue (R-GA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). A companion bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Mark Walker (R-NC-06) and Alma Adams (D-NC-12).

Full text of the bill is available here.