Apr 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration unveils sweeping plans on equity

Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on January 26, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Justice Department wants to help non-English speakers report crimes, and Defense Department is reviewing algorithmic bias in its Artificial Intelligence technology as part of the Biden administration's broad effort to tackle inequality.

Driving the news: More than 90 federal agencies released their Equity Action Plans on Thursday that were ordered by President Biden during his first days in office.

  • All Cabinet-level agencies unveiled what senior Biden officials called "an ambitious equity and racial justice agenda" around labor, housing, the environment, health care, broadband, and law enforcement.

The big picture: With police reform and voting rights legislation stalled in Congress, the Biden administration's executive actions are aimed at doing what it can to fulfill a promise to address systemic racism.

  • Details released by the White House also included plans to make National Parks more accessible to people with disabilities and reduce discrimination against LGBTQI+ people.
  • Senior Biden officials said agencies would simplify grants, programs, and government documents to make services easier to access for people of color and tribal communities.

Details: The Department of Homeland Security said it will use trainings to improve its airport screenings of people of color, and push grant programs fighting white supremacists and other domestic terrorists.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development vowed to examine how to reduce bias in home appraisals through the interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity.
  • The Department of Commerce promised to spend around $50 billion on broadband infrastructure in rural and tribal communities.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs said it will work to improve the social and economic determinants of health for LGBTQI+ veterans.
  • NASA said it would release Earth science data in more accessible formats to show environmental challenges in underserved communities

What they're saying: "Federal agencies have just completed a historic one-year journey to comprehensively assess for the first time ever," White House Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice, who is leading the administration's equity, said on a White House stream.

  • "Sometimes, these barriers are the result of exclusionary policies that the federal government actually promoted in decades past."

Flashback: In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered home-buying aid for white Americans to stimulate the economy amid the Depression. The assistance program reinforced housing segregation through redlining.

  • Today's school boundaries in many cities are still linked to that history of housing segregation from the 1930s, reinforcing segregation and inequality, despite years of strides.

Don't forget: While the Biden administration called the plans "transformative" and predicted they might have effects for generations, a new administration could reverse them immediately.

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