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Black Caucus chair says spending bill will fund top priorities, including HBCUs and housing

NBC News logo NBC News 10/27/2021 Rebecca Shabad
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WASHINGTON — As Democrats scramble to strike a deal on President Joe Biden’s social safety net agenda, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty said Wednesday that a number of her group’s priorities for Black Americans will be wrapped into the massive bill.

The Ohio Democrat said at a press conference with CBC members that they went to the White House Tuesday to speak with Biden and senior White House staff about the negotiations.

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“We're not there yet,” she said. “But shortly we will be there and we will see many of our priorities there. We will see many of the investments that we have been fighting for and working for and leading at the top of that list.”

Beatty said the sprawling economic package will include funding for housing and vouchers, Historic Black Colleges and Universities, childcare and an extended child tax credit and coverage for more seniors and Medicaid recipients.

“We're going to save thousands of lives for children and Black children. We're going to get a child tax credit. We're going to have childcare. We're going to get more money into HBCUs than we've had in the history of this Congress,” said Beatty, who said that while she doesn’t consider the forthcoming bill perfect, she said it’s progress.

“Whether it is $1.7 or $2 trillion, that is a significant amount of investments in our community,” she said.

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., said that the CBC has been working to expand coverage under Obamacare and to make the enhanced Obamacare marketplace permanent. Kelly said that they are also trying to ensure that seniors get access to dental coverage.

Congress could also use this money, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said, to address a three-generation backlog of updating public housing and vouchers, which he said is “desperately needed.”

“We haven't increased the vouchers substantially since [President] Lyndon Johnson,” he said. “So this housing issue is important — and it matters, it really matters.”

Congressional Democrats are trying to reach an agreement on the legislation’s framework before Biden heads to Europe later this week for the G20 summit in Rome and the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

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