Congressional Black Caucus bashes Trump’s move to scrap affirmative action

Congressional Black Caucus bashes Trump’s move to scrap affirmative action
© Greg Nash

The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) hammered the Trump administration on Tuesday for revoking federal guidelines that encourage colleges to consider race in their admissions determinations, calling the move an unveiled attack on minorities. 

Rep. Cedric RichmondCedric Levon RichmondThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The Hill's Morning Report - Can Bernie recapture 2016 magic? MORE (D-La.), who has long accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE of pursuing policies that are overtly racist, said rescinding the Obama-era affirmative action guidelines will “turn back the clock” on efforts to encourage diversity on college campuses across the country.

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“Yet again we see that this administration's goal and vision for ‘Making America Great Again’ is to reduce the role of the state in making sure our society prizes diversity and inclusion,” Richmond said in a statement. “While I am not surprised, I continue to be disappointed that the President of this great country demonstrably cares so little for its non-white residents and their interests." 

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOn The Money: Senate Dems to introduce resolution blocking Trump emergency declaration | Banks made billion in extra profits thanks to GOP tax law | IRS analyst charged with leaking Cohen's financial records Coast Guard lieutenant accused of planning domestic terrorism denied bail Inviting Kim Jong Un to Washington MORE (D-Calif.) added to the criticism, saying Trump’s decision constitutes an “attack on communities of color” that will steal education opportunities from some of the nation’s most vulnerable students.

“Our economy, society and democracy are enriched when every person, regardless of their zip code, has a shot at a quality education that allows them to climb the ladders of opportunity,” she said in a statement.

At issue are a series of nonbinding guidelines, issued by the Education Department during the Obama administration, designed to encourage schools to continue affirmative action policies in the face of legal restrictions and looming challenges. One ongoing case has found Harvard University fighting charges that it has held Asian-Americans to a higher standard than other students in its admissions process.

The Justice Department under Trump has long pushed for a colorblind approach to college admissions, and on Tuesday the agency rescinded seven of the Obama administration’s race-based guidelines as part of a broader effort to roll back rules adopted by the previous administration.

In total, the Justice Department scrapped guidance on 24 policies affecting topics like education, housing finance and criminal justice. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsEx-Trump aide: Can’t imagine Mueller not giving House a ‘roadmap’ to impeachment Rosenstein: My time at DOJ is 'coming to an end' Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump MORE said doing so was necessary because the guidelines “were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law."

“In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law,” Sessions said in a statement.

Democrats pounced, noting that the rescissions come roughly a week before Trump is expected to announce his pick to succeed Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is slated to step down on July 31. The Harvard case is widely expected to reach the Supreme Court, and the Democrats are concerned that Kennedy’s replacement will prove more hostile to race-based programs like affirmative action. 

“The President,” Richmond said, “is sending a message to his future nominee and to his base that he and his administration don't care about diversity and will actively work to turn back the clock.”