Wednesday, March 22, 2023

First Lady Jill Biden Expresses Disappointment Free Community College Won’t Happen With Build Back Better

First Lady Jill Biden expressed disappointment yesterday that her hope of establishing government-backed, free community college isn’t likely to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

CBS News reports that while speaking to an association of community college leaders, Biden acknowledged that “congress hasn’t passed the Build Back Better plan and “free community college is no longer a part of that package. We knew that this wasn’t going to be easy — and Joe has always said that. Still, like you, I was disappointed. Because, like you, these aren’t just bills or budgets to me. We know what they mean for real people, for our students.”

The main opposition to the legislation has been Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Who has said that he will not do anything to revive the plan as originally written, according to CBS News. But he and other Democrats are hoping to salvage some provision of the plan through more modest legislation.

Community college enrollment remains an important step into higher education for millions across the country, particularly people of color. According to data from the American Association of Community Colleges, 2021 enrollment at the schools by race was 27 percent Hispanic, 13 percent Black, 44 percent white, 6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander and 1 percent Native American.

Biden has maintained her full-time day job as a community college professor during her husband’s presidency. To date, she is the first and only First Lady to maintain employment outside of the White House during the president’s term.

President Biden proposed a $3.5 trillion domestic policy agenda which included plans for free community college, paid family and sick leave and free pre-Kindergarten. The proposal was dramatically  scaled back to placate Senators Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.These two broke ranks with Senate Democrats over its price tag, and the idea for free community college and a paid leave program were stricken from the plan.

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