Everyone remembers the controversial photo, taken in the White House’s Oval Office, of President Trump with a group of presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). Many said at the time that it was no more than a “photo op” with Trump “using” the Black college presidents for political advantage. (say “cheese!”) You’ll probably also remember that Trump’s spokeswoman, Kellyanne Conway came in for criticism centered around her unladylike positions on the couch during that photo session.
A recent statement by the President has now brought those concerns (the colleges, not Ms. Conway’s modesty) back to the forefront of political discussions. On Friday, May 5th, Trump, while signing the $1.1 trillion omnibus government spending bill, seemed to suggest that the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program contained in that bill may not be constitutional, singling out that program as one of the provisions that, in his words, “allocates benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.” This program provides federally backed loans to historically black colleges and universities for the construction of buildings and other facilities. Further, the president said that his administration would 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.”’ In other words, as some interpret his words, no more special treatment for HBCU’s.
In his signing statement, Trump mentioned a number of provisions in the bill that, he says, would “unconstitutionally” limit his authority as commander in chief, adding that where such a conflict appears, his adminstration will abide strictly by the constitution’s interpretation of the President’s powers. In the words of Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Cedric Richmond (D-La.), “For a president who pledged to reach out to African-Americans and other minorities, this statement is stunningly careless and divisive.” Surprised? You shouldn’t be! Congressional supporters of HBCU’s urge him to reconsider. This isn’t over yet! Say “cheese!”
by Jerry Wells from posts on politico.com and complex.com