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April 5, 2024

Rep. Pressley, Ranking Member Raskin Introduce Bills to Codify Racial Equity, Improve Government Services for Underserved Communities

Bills Support Provisions of President Biden’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government”

Summary of Bills (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, introduced two bills to codify key ideas from the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14091 to advance racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government.  The Federal Government Equity Improvement Act and the Equity in Agency Planning Act would ensure that federal agencies continue their work to promote equal opportunity for all, including people of color, women, rural communities, individuals with disabilities, and others that have been systemically excluded from participating fully in economic, social, and civic life.

In April 2022, Rep. Pressley joined Administration officials at a White House event to announce the executive orders, which followed calls from Congresswoman Pressley and then-House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney for robust data collection, assessment tools, and stakeholder engagement to ensure the success of the initiative. Video of the event is available here.

“We must center racial equity and justice in every administrative and policy decision across federal agencies,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “Our bills would help us do just that by building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic executive orders and providing essential tools to advance equity through data collection and critical stakeholder engagement. With diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives under assault by Republicans nationwide, these bills are deeply necessary to ensure government works for all people. I thank Ranking Member Raskin and the White House for their ongoing partnership.”

“The federal government must be transparent, accountable, and responsive to everyone it serves—not just those who have had easier access to government services and decision making,” said Ranking Member Raskin.  “Since its very first executive order on its very first day, the Biden-Harris Administration has championed a historic, whole-of-government effort to ensure equity in federal operations and services, transforming how the federal government serves the communities it has failed or neglected in the past.  Today, I am proud to introduce legislation to codify some of the essential progress of this data-driven, good government work to ensure it continues for generations to come.”

The Federal Government Equity Improvement Act would establish statutory requirements for federal agency equity advisory teams, an Equitable Data Working Group, and an interagency working group to allow agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders to share best practices in the collection and use of data for assessing barriers to equity, among other things.

The Equity in Agency Planning Act wouldamend various agency performance planning requirements to ensure that agencies continue to prioritize improving the equitable provision of services in their agency goals. 

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed the historic Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” on his first day in office, directing the Domestic Policy Council and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to work with federal agencies to identify and remove barriers to equal opportunity and programmatic benefits for people of color and other underserved groups. In February 2023, President Biden signed Executive Order 14091 to take further steps on improving equity in federal agencies. 

On October 15, 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Pressley sent a letter to Ambassador Susan Rice, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and OMB Director Shalanda Young underscoring the need for robust data, assessment tools, and stakeholder engagement to ensure the successful implementation of  Executive Order 13985.

On April 14, 2022, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Pressley issued statements applauding the Biden-Harris Administration for convening all federal agencies to present their first-ever Equity Action Plans.

The Equity in Agency Planning Act and Federal Government Equity Improvement Act were first introduced in December 2022.

The bills are co-sponsored by Representatives Shontel M. Brown (OH-11), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Troy A. Carter, Sr. (LA-02), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Henry C. (“Hank”) Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Summer Lee (PA-12), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), and Dan Goldman (NY-10).

Click here for a one-pager on both bills.

Click here for bill text on the Federal Government Equity Improvement Act.

Click here for bill text on the Equity in Agency Planning Act.