by Max Brantley
The Bill Halter campaign delights in noting that Sen. Blanche Lincoln will begin a campaign tour with Bill Clinton Friday at Philander Smith, a historically black college. The delight? In voting against the health "reconciliation" bill passed by the House, Lincoln voted against a bill whose many provisions included $85 million in student loan money for historically black colleges.
I think it is a stretch for the Halter campaign to nake it appear the vote was solely about black colleges, but .... votes do have consequences.
UPDATE: On the jump, Lincoln responds -- at great length.
HALTER NEWS RELEASE
North Little Rock – Despite recently voting against $85 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Senator Blanche Lincoln will hold a campaign rally at a historically black college, Philander Smith, in Little Rock on Friday. The student loan package included in the health care reconciliation bill she voted against included $85 million in funding for historically black colleges and universities. That vote was one of the reasons the Arkansas NAACP gave Sen. Lincoln a grade of F on their state report card.
“This is another example of Senator Lincoln's typical Washington hypocrisy, and why Arkansans need the change Bill Halter represents," said Halter campaign manager Carol Butler. "When the big banks need her to vote against funding for Historically Black Colleges, Blanche Lincoln chose the banks, not the students. She’s more interested in using a Historically Black College as a political prop than in helping the students who go there."
Senator Lincoln has taken more than $1.2 million from big banks and investment firms. On Mar. 25, 2010, Senator Lincoln voted against HR 4872, the reconciliation portion of the health care bill that included a student loan reform package opposed by the big banks.
The legislation passed with Senator Lincoln joining only two other Democrats and all the Republicans to vote against it. (Roll Call Vote 105, 111th Congress)
The student loan package included $85 million in funding for Historically Black colleges and Universities to help low-income students attain degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
“Senator Lincoln is asking for votes from Arkansans she didn't vote to support," concluded Butler. "Bill Halter took on the insiders to pass the Scholarship Lottery to help these students. Senator Lincoln is evidently more interested in preserving her own political future than in helping these students create better futures as scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”
“Sen. Lincoln is proud to be joining President Clinton at one of Arkansas’s premiere institutions of higher learning, Philander Smith College, and regrets that Bill Halter has chosen this occasion to once again sling mud and distort her record,” Lincoln campaign spokesman Katie Laning Niebaum said. “Sen. Lincoln has worked hand-in-hand with college officials for many years and has secured more than $5.4 million to help Philander Smith meet the educational needs of its students. She is proud to be returning to campus.”
Senator Lincoln Has Consistently Stood Up For Arkansas’s Historically Black Colleges
· Senator Lincoln has secured nearly $30 million in funding for Arkansas’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)—including $5.4 million for Philander Smith College.
· Sen. Lincoln has worked closely with Philander Smith College to secure federal funding to meet educational needs of students. In 2009, Sen. Lincoln secured $750,000 for security upgrades to improve security for the dormitory, student union center, and campus as a whole.
· Philander Smith College received its first federal appropriation in fiscal year 2005 due in part to Senator Lincoln’s work. Sen. Lincoln helped secure $320,000 for equipment, supplies, furnishings, and personnel for the college’s Harry R. Kendall Science and Health Mission Center.
· Sen. Lincoln has championed Philander Smith’s Upward Bound program, helping to secure nearly $1 million for the program.
· Senator Lincoln supported the Recovery Act, which included more than $800 million for infrastructure projects at HBCU campuses and $500 million for improvements in technology.
· In 2007, Senator Lincoln supported legislation which provided $170 million in new funding for HBCUs across the country.
· In 2008, Senator Lincoln supported the Higher Education Reauthorization, which provided over $575 million in funding for HBCUs.
· In April, Senator Lincoln sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, urging them to provide full funding for key Historically Black Colleges and Universities programs in the upcoming spending bill, totally over $365 million.
Senator Lincoln Has Consistently Fought For Increased Access to Higher Education for Arkansas Students
· Lincoln Supported Higher Education Reauthorization. In 2008, Lincoln voted for the Higher Education Reauthorization Bill, which increased the maximum Pell Grant award to $8,000 per year by 2014. It would bar lenders from giving schools financial perks in order to get on a “preferred lender list.” It also would penalize states that cut funding for institutions of higher education by withholding some federal funds if the state’s funding for such institutions falls below the average amount allocated by the state over the last five academic years. [Senate Vote #194, 7/31/2008]
· Lincoln Voted for Student Loan Bill Which Granted More Aid to Low and Middle Income Students By Reducing Subsidies to Lenders. In 2007, Lincoln voted for a student loan package which cut “taxpayer subsidies to student lenders by more than $18 billion and funneling most of the money into increasing federal grants for low- and middle-income students and easing repayment terms on federal loans.” [New York Times, 7/20/2007; Senate Vote #272, 7/20/2007]
· Lincoln Voted to Increase Grants for Neediest Students. In 2007, Lincoln voted for an amendment to increase the amount authorized for the Promise grant for the neediest Pell Grant recipients from $3.2 billion each year to $3.7 billion by 2014 and $4.2 billion by 2016. [Senate Vote #255, 7/19/2007]
· Lincoln Voted for Increased Aid to Struggling Students Over Corporate Tax Breaks. In 2006, Lincoln voted to restore education program cuts and increase Pell Grant award amounts by closing corporate tax loopholes. [Senate Vote #39, 3/14/2006]
· Lincoln Cosponsored Legislation Aimed at Expanding Access to Higher Education for Low-Income Students and Families. In 2006, Senator Lincoln cosponsored legislation with Republican Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon that would extend and expand tax incentives that promote affordable higher education. [S.3940, Introduced 9/26/2006]
Senator Lincoln Has Consistently Received High Marks From NAACP
· Senator Lincoln received an “A” rating from the NAACP for her 2009 voting record, including votes for pay fairness, extending health insurance to low-income children , and funding for after-school programs.
· Senator Lincoln has consistently received high marks from the NAACP since her election to the U.S. Senate.