Biden’s Plans to Fight Inequity Prove Light on Specifics

President Joe Biden made it a point to highlight his fight against inequities when he announced aflurry of executive orders thatreverse course on Trump administration policies. That said, details were scarce, with more likely to come over the next few weeks.

Notable moves included a shift on government diversity training, a review of equity at every single agency and the naming of Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice to oversee accountability. What we know:

  • Biden plans to revoke one of former President Donald Trump’s most controversial orders, which limited the ability of federal government agencies and contractors to implement diversity training that discussed “White privilege” — andprompted many companies and agencies to suspend programs to avoid government action. He also is eliminating the 1776 Commission, saying the group obscured America’s history of racial injustice. (On Monday, the group issued its own version of the history of the nation’s founding.)
  • Biden will order that every federal agency must review its operations for policies that might be discriminatory or unequal, and develop a plan to address those disparities within 200 days. The directive didn’t include specific parameters on how that would work.
  • The government will create a new “equitable data working group” that will assess federal data, often used in allocating resources, to ensure it accurately reflects the diversity of America. The administration also will ensure the U.S. Census has time to complete anaccurate count from each state to ensure federal resources are “efficiently and fairly distributed.”
  • Biden will direct the Office of Management and Budget to more equitably allocate federal resources to support communities of color and other marginalized groups. The order didn’t include financial metrics. The OMB’s main task is managing the federal budget; it also coordinates initiatives between agencies and reviews policies to ensure they’re in line with the president’s goals.
  • The administration will order all agencies to take all lawful steps to ensure the adoption of the recent U.S. Supreme Courtruling clarifying that LGBTQ people are among those protected from workplace discrimination. For example, Trump had taken action to remove language specific to LGBTQ employees from many federal policies and guidelines.
  • To aid immigrants, work on Trump’s controversial border wall willcease, and policies implemented as part of a crackdown on undocumented immigrants will be rescinded. The new administration will alsomove to protect young people in the U.S. as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — so-called Dreamers, and end the ban on travel from primarily Muslim and African countries.

”A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us,” Biden said in his inaugural speech Wednesday. “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”

Many of the actions will likely face legal challenges. Biden also may see somedifficulty in broadening the executive orders, which only apply to federal agencies and their contractors, because of Democrats’ razor-thin margin in Congress. Lasting changes for underrepresented groups may not be evident for some time; Biden’s success will come down to the details, and how he and his team spend the next four years.

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