David Scott’s Donald Trump connection and how he thinks it could pay dividends

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, in 2009. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

Credit: Tamar Hallerman

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, in 2009. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. David Scott raised some eyebrows last summer when he didn't dismiss then-candidate Donald Trump's 'what do you have to lose?' pitch to black voters.

Instead, the Atlanta Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter said that while Trump could have been more tactful, he was glad the New York businessman was spotlighting the economic concerns of African-American voters, a set of issues often downplayed on the presidential trail.

Now that Trump will soon be sworn in as president, Scott is hoping he can capitalize off their University of Pennsylvania connection to advance two pet bills at the top of his personal agenda.

“Life moves through various phases and you have to be prepared to make gains every inch of the way,” Scott said in a recent interview. “I sit in a position that may be unique.”

Scott and Trump overlapped for a year at the Wharton School, Trump as he was finishing up his bachelor's degree and Scott as he was beginning his master's. The soon-to-be businessmen didn't know each other, but Scott, a centrist with an independent streak, thinks that link could open a door for him to advance his own legislation.

The first is a bill that would create a new $19 million pot of money for 19 historically black land grant colleges and universities, including Georgia's Fort Valley State University, for scholarships for students going into agriculture-related fields. The other builds off an earlier effort related to the Keystone pipeline and would incentivize businesses to recruit and train black men under the age of 39 for infrastructure-related work.

“It was Donald Trump who said, ‘I want to help black people. What in the hell do you have to lose?’” Scott said. “The smart thing for me to do is to say, ‘Mr. President Trump, you said you wanted to help. Well, I need your support on this bill.’”

Scott introduced both bills during Congress' last session. Despite attracting some Republican cosponsors, the measures did not advance. (One did receive a hearing in the lame duck.)

Scott said his office has reached out to Trump's but has yet to hear back.

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