Harris knocks Gaetz for taking issue with money for Howard in relief package

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisStates respond with force amid another night of protests Protesters knock down White House security barricades as tensions mount over Floyd's death The Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil MORE (D-Calif.) knocked Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections Trump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (R-Fla.) on Twitter on Wednesday night after the congressman took issue with a provision in the coronavirus stimulus package passed by the Senate that included $13 million for Howard University, among other components.

“$13,000,000 in taxpayer funds could be going to families across the nation struggling to put food on the table in the midst of COVID-19,” Gaetz said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that included screenshots of the provision laid out in the coronavirus relief legislation.

“Instead, it's going to Howard University,” he continued. “Education is important- but a $13 million check to Howard does not belong in COVID-19 relief.”

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In response, Harris, a graduate of the historically black university, went after Gaetz on Twitter, saying: “The bill provides $30 billion to protect students and help schools, colleges and universities combat the coronavirus. This is $13 million.”

“$13 million = .04% of $30 billion,” she wrote in a tweet later Wednesday night. “Why do you take issue with money going to Howard, Congressman?”

The Florida Republican’s comments also prompted “Howard University” to trend at the top of Twitter into late Wednesday. Many noted the school has a hospital that has been designated as one of Washington, D.C.’s COVID-19 treatment facilities. The university also has a medical group known as the Howard University Faculty Practice Plan with the same designation.

Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) also weighed in on the matter on Twitter, telling the congressman: "@HowardU is federally chartered. Congressional appropriations fund Howard University and Howard University Hospital. It is absolutely appropriate for Howard University to receive emergency funding."

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Gaetz defended his tweets early Thursday, responding to critics by noting that he had gone after a number of other provisions including for unions and refugee funding. He said was playing "the earmark card."

Howard University tweeted "HU Facts" amid the online conversation late Wednesday noting it operates a "world-class medical simulation center."

“Howard University is one of many higher-education institutions that serves underrepresented communities, which are being considered for emergency supplemental funding as we look to support students who are facing unique challenges in response to COVID-19,” Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday.

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“As one of only two congressionally chartered non-military universities, Howard University does not have access to Title III and other federal resources targeting higher education institutions. Thus, the proposed amount of emergency funding allotted to Howard is comparable to the support proposed for other colleges and universities in response to this unprecedented pandemic,” he continued.

“It also reflects Congress' recognition that education is vital to the future of our nation's economy. Howard University proudly serves a diverse population of students where 49 percent receive Pell Grants,” he added. “The institution is the top producer of African American undergraduate students who attend medical schools across the country.”

--This report was updated at 12:29 p.m.