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Republicans introduce bill to ban federal DEI programs

4 weeks ago 29

Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would end all federal diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and end funding for government agencies, contractors, schools and other organizations that have their own DEI programs.

Introduced Wednesday, the proposed “Dismantle DEI Act” is the latest in a cascade of challenges that have arisen over the past year to programs that give preferences to minorities and women, including a disaster aid program for minority farmers and the Minority Business Development Agency. Scores of state legislatures across the country are considering anti-DEI bills, and private-sector initiatives have been challenged in court.

These challenges have come in the wake of the Supreme Court decision last June that struck down affirmative action in college admissions.

The federal bill was introduced by Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and backed by Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.) and Rick Scott (Fla.), and more than a dozen Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Its chances of passage seem unlikely as long as Democrats control the Senate and White House. But the bill offers a window into the pressure DEI initiatives could face if Donald Trump returns to the presidency and Republicans gain a majority in the Senate.

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DEI encompasses a wide range of practices that advocates describe as ways to diversify companies, schools and organizations, their ranks, and ensure equal access to opportunity. It includes efforts such as recruiting and mentorship programs geared toward underrepresented groups, anti-bias training, and employee resource groups.

Critics of DEI programs say preferences based on race and gender are themselves discriminatory.

“I’m proud to introduce this legislation, which would root out DEI from our federal bureaucracy by eliminating such programs and stripping funding for DEI policies anywhere it exists,” Vance said in a statement. “Americans’ tax dollars should not be co-opted to spread this radical and divisive ideology.”

The bill seeks to rescind executive orders related to DEI, such as the 2021 order by President Biden that declared that “as the Nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government must be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility”

It also would wipe out DEI-related federal roles and offices, end trainings, and revoke all funding for DEI programming in federal agencies. The legislation would bar federal contracts from being awarded to “entities that employ DEI practices,” according to the press release, and bar accreditation agencies from requiring DEI in schools.

Some of the Biden administration’s DEI efforts have already been unwound: The federal spending measure enacted in March to avert a government shutdown included a provision that stripped funding for the U.S. House Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The office was established in March 2020 to help develop a federal workforce that mirrors the diversity of the nation.

The proposal to dismantle federal DEI programs “denies the racist and xenophobic realities communities of color have faced in this country and the generational wounds these histories leave behind.” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post.

“These unrelenting attacks on DEI programs, spurred on by the right-wing Supreme Court majority’s affirmative action decision, are not just misguided and counterproductive for our nation’s collective strength, they are direct assaults on communities of color, on women, on our LGBTQ communities, and many more,” Chu said.

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