Oct 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

PhRMA calls Trump's ban on anti-racism training "harmful"

Trump speaking to reporters at the White House on Sept. 30.
Trump speaking to reporters at the White House in September. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) said in a statement Thursday that President Trump's executive order that appears to block federal contractors from holding anti-racist programs or diversity training is "ill-conceived and harmful" and asked that it be rescinded.

Why it matters: PhRMA president and CEO Stephen Ubl warned that the order puts "improper bureaucratic hurdles and restrictions on speech" within private companies that have contracts and grants with the federal government, jeopardizing "meaningful dialogue on the values for which this nation stands."

Context: Trump moved to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training in early September, then expanded the ban to federal contractors. The order suggests these sessions promote "radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

What they're saying: “The biopharmaceutical industry is doing everything it can to find vaccines and therapeutics to help end a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities," Ubl wrote in a statement Thursday.

  • “The issue of health inequities is not a new problem. It is a longstanding symptom of the systemic racism experienced by Black and Brown Americans throughout history. It is why our companies have committed to pushing for necessary, positive and long-term change to better address the needs of diverse communities."
  • "And it is why we must speak out against the president’s executive order restricting workplace diversity training programs and free speech within private companies that have contractual partnerships with or grants from the federal government."
  • “Diversity is essential to a robust innovation ecosystem that can create new medicines for those who need them."

The big picture: The Information Technology Industry Council, a tech industry lobbying group, also pushed back against the order last week.

  • CEO Jason Oxman wrote in a statement that it "attacks our broadly shared values and risks undoing real progress toward building racial equity in the tech industry and America writ large."
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