Posted on November 4, 2021

Black Caucus Emerges as Winner in Spending Package

Marty Johnson, The Hill, October 31, 2021

The $1.75 trillion framework agreement for President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan represents a significant victory for Black lawmakers, who have been adamant that promises made to Black communities be kept by the White House.

The framework included key priorities of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), including funding for historically Black colleges and universities, an increased child tax credit, affordable housing, universal child care and pre-K, and Medicare expansions.

CBC Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) in remarks before Friday’s unveiling of the framework suggested Biden knew he needed to deliver for the CBC, which has been disappointed at the lack of progress on key issues such as voting rights and police reform.

She noted that House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had been instrumental in helping Biden win the Democratic presidential primary by endorsing the former vice president in his home state caucus. Black voters then helped Biden win the South Carolina primary and a series of contests on Super Tuesday.

“The President was very clear that … he needed to demonstrate to us, and he said this publicly, that because of the work of Jim Clyburn, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the number of black people who came out and voted in our districts because of the issues that we bring forth, whether we’re agreeing with one another and not, it’s all how progress happens,” Beatty said.


The spending package commits billions of dollars to increasing the maximum amount of Pell Grants while giving billions more to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions.

Specifically, $200 million will go to “research capacity building,” with another $100 million going to “academic research facilities, modernization and research instrumentation, including construction, upgrade, renovation, or repair of research infrastructure.”

The expanded child tax credit, introduced in Biden’s American Rescue Plan, is extended a year through the plan. The program provides $300 per month per child under the age of 6 and then $250 per month for kids ages 6 to 17.


Notably, through the package, $150 billion will be put toward public housing; the Biden administration describes it as the “single largest and most comprehensive investment in affordable housing in history.”

Once thought to be on the chopping block, universal child care and pre-K also made the cut.

Over six years, $400 billion will go to what Black lawmakers and activists believe will allow women of color — who have disparately left the workforce during the pandemic — to return to work while improving the education for low-income and minority children.

Black women are the most likely to be the primary source of income for their families, while Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native communities are more likely to live in child care deserts.

Also included is funding to address the Black maternal health crisis, an issue Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.) championed earlier in the year with the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.

That said, in a letter, presidents of HBCUs along with the United Negro College Fund called for the investments in both institutions and Pell Grants to be larger.

And lawmakers had hoped for the child tax credit to become permanent for the next decade.

The loss of a paid family leave provision also angered activists and advocates.