Racial Equity

Democrats and the Biden-Harris Administration have worked to reverse generations of racial injustice and improve racial equity on all fronts – from the economy to healthcare to public safety to housing discrimination to environmental justice to racial violence to voting rights to education. Through legislation (see American Rescue Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, Safer Communities Act, Emmet Till Anti-Lynching Act, COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), as well as bills that only passed in the House such as Build Back Better, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the George Floyd Policing Act) and executive orders, Democrats and the Biden-Harris administration have begun to make significant progress on racial equity and will be able to do even more with a larger Senate majority.

 

What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?

 

Community Equity

  • Provided massive investments to improve infrastructure – clean water/lead pipes, roads, public transportation and internet service – in communities of color.
  • Taken actions to reduce housing discrimination.
  • Reformed the home appraisal process to eliminate discrimination.
  • Launched a new enforcement policy to ban redlining.
  • Invested in community violence intervention programs to improve public safety.
  • Launched the Heirs’ Property Relending Program to assist Black landowners in resolving title issues.

Economic Equity

  • Supported historic income growth for Black and Hispanic workers with Black households reaching about 7.5% annualized real income growth over the past two years with the help of Biden’s economic strategy and the American Rescue Plan.
  • Provided $25B in rental assistance, nearly $20B in homeowner assistance and $10B to families at risk of homelessness, reducing foreclosure filings in 2021 to a historic low with 29% fewer filings than in 2020 and 95% below the 2010 recession.
  • Provided immediate financial relief with the American Rescue Plan through rental/housing assistance, stimulus checks, tax breaks and childcare tax credits.
  • Lowered childcare costs by expanding the Child Tax Credit which cut child poverty in half for 61.2M children and 36M households, including more than half of all Black, Hispanic and Asian American children.
  • Instituted $15 minimum wage for federal workers, 40% of which are people of color.
  • Increased BIPOC entrepreneurship to the highest it has been in a decade for Hispanic Asian American entrepreneurs, and the fastest rate since 1995 for Black entrepreneurs.
  • Mandated pay equity for federal contractors.
  • Supported small and minority-owned businesses.
  • Improved Black, Asian American, and Hispanic employment/labor participation to record highs.
  • Forgave over $300B in student loans which will cut student loan debt nearly in half for most Black borrowers and more than one in four Black borrowers will have their balance forgiven. About half of Latino borrowers will have their entire federal loan debt forgiven.

Environmental Equity

  • Prioritized environmental justice in the Inflation Reduction Act which will fund $60B in clean energy and emissions reductions specifically for underserved and disadvantaged communities.
  • Launched federal environmental justice initiatives to ensure federal agencies deliver 40% of the benefits of clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to underserved and disadvantaged communities.
  • Implemented policies to reduce barriers for Black communities facing natural disasters.

Healthcare Equity

  • Addressed racial disparities in healthcare with the enactment of the John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act of 2021 which will expand critical research into racial disparities in healthcare.
  • Expanded accessibility and affordability of healthcare by expanding access to zero- and low-premium health insurance plans for uninsured and disadvantaged communities.
  • Implemented policies to reduce maternal mortality among Black and Native American women.
  • Improved mental health support in communities of color and low-income communities.
  • Improved COVID responses in communities of color and achieved equitable rates of vaccination across communities of color.
  • Built pipelines for Black healthcare providers by investing $1.5B in growing and diversifying the nation’s healthcare workforce to increase equitable health care.

Broad Racial Equity Efforts

  • Expanded the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
  • Passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act – it took 200 attempts since 1900 to get this passed.
  • Passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
  • Passed the Safer Communities Act – the first gun control bill passed in 30 years.
  • Passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the House which would restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). (Blocked by Senate Republicans.) 
  • Passed the George Floyd Policing Act in the House – a sweeping police reform bill. (Blocked by Senate Republicans.) 
  • Implemented Equity Act plans to advance racial equity and support underserved communities with 90 federal agencies.
  • Increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their students with the Biden-Harris Administration investing a historic $6.6B in HBCUs.
  • Directed federal agencies to address and improve public safety for Native American and Indigenous communities through enforcement and prevention.
  • Increased the accessibility and affordability of childcare by providing $39B in stabilization grants to more than 190K childcare providers, 20% of whom were Black childcare providers, serving more than 8M children.
  • Reduced child poverty by nearly half for Black and Hispanic families and 27% for Asian-American children by expanding eligibility for Child Tax Credits to 61.2M children and 26M households.

What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?

 

Community Equity

      • Provided massive investments to improve infrastructure – clean water/lead pipes, roads, public transportation and internet service – in communities of color. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) have provided significant investments to replace lead pipes for clean water, improve roads and public transportation, expand fast and cheap broadband services, and create good-paying union jobs.
      • Taken actions to reduce housing discrimination. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking action to eliminate the racial home-ownership gap and address the disproportionate rates of homelessness among among people of color, low-income individuals and families, veterans, and LGBTQI+ Americans. HUD is also taking actions to reduce bias in home appraisals.
      • Reformed the home appraisal process to eliminate discrimination. In March 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration’s Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) released the PAVE Action Plan, which represents the most wide-ranging set of reforms ever put forward to advance equity in the home appraisal process.
      • Launched a new enforcement policy to ban redlining. The DOJ has launched a new enforcement effort banning modern-day redlining practices. Redlining is a discriminatory practice in which lenders refuses to issue loans and other financial services to customers who reside in neighborhoods that are predominately low-income and/or communities of color.
      • Invested in community violence intervention programs to improve public safety. As part of the FY22 Appropriations package, Biden secured funding for community violence intervention programs, which have been shown to reduce violence by up to 60%. The Administration has also invested in reducing gun crime and ensuring public safety, specifically in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Congress also passed the Safer Communities Act which takes a multi-prong approach to increase public safety and reduce violent crime in the US by increasing funding for crime intervention through community programs; hiring more crisis responders, and social workers; holding police accountable; and passing gun control legislation.
      • Launched the Heirs’ Property Relending Program to assist Black landowners in resolving title issues. The Department of Agriculture launched the Heirs’ Property Relending Program, which primarily aids underserved communities by providing funds to assist heirs in resolving ownership and succession issues on farmland with multiple owners. An estimated 60% of Black-owned land in the South is “heir property” — property passed through inheritances without a will — which has historically made these homeowners ineligible for USDA programs and lending.

Economic Equity

      • Supported income growth for Black and Hispanic workers. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and Hispanic households have experienced the greatest income growth trends, with Black households reaching about 7.5% annualized real income growth over the past two years, as a result of Biden’s economic strategy and the American Rescue Plan.
      • Provided $25B in rental assistance, nearly $20B in homeowner assistance and $10B to families at risk of homelessness.
      • Of the $25B in rental assistance that was spent in 2021, 40% of aid recipients were Black Americans.
      • As a result of these protections, foreclosure filings in 2021 were at a historic low with 29% fewer filings than in 2020 and 95% below the 2010 recession.
      • Provided immediate financial relief with the American Rescue Plan (ARP). ARP provided cash relief directly to low- and middle- income Americans last year, through rental/housing assistance, stimulus checks, tax breaks and childcare tax credits.
      • Lowered childcare costs which cut child poverty in half for 61.2M children and 36M households. ARP significantly lowered child care costs for families by expanding the Child Tax Credit and allowing a median income family with two kids under age 13 to receive up to $8,000 towards their child care expenses, compared with a maximum of $1,200 previously. This helped 61.2M children and 36M households.
      • Instituted $15 minimum wage for federal workers, 40% of which are people of color. President Biden signed a series of Executive Orders providing a $15 minimum wage for federal employees and contractors to address wage disparities. This benefitted more than 370K workers – 40% of whom are people of color – in 2022 alone.
      • Increased BIPOC entrepreneurship. ARP and Biden’s economic plan fueled new business growth. Hispanic and Asian American business formation is the highest it has been in a decade, and Black entrepreneurship has increased at the fastest rate since 1995.
      • Mandated pay equity for federal contractors. President Biden has mandated the federal government develop policies to ensure pay equity for federal contractors, including limiting or banning the collection of prior pay history in the employment process.
      • Supported small and minority-owned businesses. President Biden has mandated reforms to the federal procurement process to offer new opportunities to small and minority-owned businesses. If passed in the Senate (it passed in the House), Build Back Better (BBB) would invest $100B in small and minority-owned businesses over the next five years.
      • Improved Black, Asian American, and Hispanic employment/labor participation. Due to Biden’s economic strategy and the American Rescue Plan, Black participation in the labor force has rebounded after recent declines – participation is now equivalent to White participation in the labor force. Between January 2021 and April 2022, Asian American unemployment fell from 6.6% to 3.1% and Hispanic unemployment fell from 9.4% to 4.1%—the largest calendar year drop on record—which is below pre-pandemic levels. Hispanic women’s unemployment, specifically, has fallen from 8.8% in January 2021 to 3.8% in April 2022.
      • Forgave over $300B in student loans. On August 24, 2022, President Biden announced his historic plan to forgive even more student loan debt (the administration has already forgiven over $30B) which will benefit over 40M borrowers and at least 20M will see their debt eliminated. The forgiveness program will cut student loan debt nearly in half for most Black borrowers and more than one in four Black borrowers will have their balance forgiven. About half of Latino borrowers will have their entire federal loan debt forgiven. More details:
        • $10K loan forgiveness for individuals with an income of less than $125K.
        • $20K loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients with an income of less than $125K. (72% of Pell Grant recipients are Black.)
        • All loan payments are capped at 5% of the borrower’s monthly discretionary income (i.e. income after accounting for living expenses) instead of the previous 10%.
        • For borrowers with original loan balances of $12,000 or less, loan balances will be forgiven in full after 10 years of payments instead of 20 years.
        • No borrower’s loan balance will increase due to interest as long as they make their monthly payments—even if that monthly payment is $0 because their income is low.
        • No borrower earning under 225% of the federal poverty level—about the annual equivalent of a $15 minimum wage for a single borrower—will have to make a monthly payment.
        • The pause on federal student loan repayment was extended through December 31, 2022.

Environmental Equity

      • Prioritized environmental justice in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which will fund $60B in clean energy and emissions reductions specifically for underserved and disadvantaged communities. Community groups, governments, and tribes can also qualify for $3B in block grants for EJ programs (e.g. cleaning up abandoned mines, monitoring air quality, and improving extreme weather resilience). IRA also has $3B to restore and reconnect communities that are divided by highways.
      • Launched federal environmental justice initiatives. The Biden-Harris Administration introduced the Justice40 Initiative to ensure federal agencies deliver 40% of the benefits of clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to underserved and disadvantaged communities.
      • Implemented policies to reduce barriers for Black communities facing natural disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implemented policy changes to reduce barriers contributing to the disparities experienced by
      • Black Americans receiving individual assistance during and after experiencing natural disasters.

Healthcare Equity

      • Addressed racial disparities in healthcare. President Biden signed into law the John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act of 2021 to expand critical research into racial disparities in healthcare.
      • Expanded accessibility and affordability of healthcare. The American Rescue Plan expanded access to zero- and low-premium health insurance plans for uninsured and disadvantaged communities. Enrollment in quality, affordable healthcare coverage also increased, with 14.5M people signing up for insurance through the ACA Marketplaces. 76% of uninsured Black Americans could find a plan for less than $50 a month, and 66% could find a plan for free in 2021 with subsidies.
      • Implemented policies to reduce maternal mortality. Biden implemented policies to reduce unacceptably high maternal mortality rates among Black and Native American women.
      • Improved mental health support in communities of color and low-income communities. The Administration launched a new national strategy for expanding access to mental health care in communities of color and low-income communities who disproportionately fail to receive mental health support.
      • Improved COVID responses in communities of color and achieved equitable rates of vaccination across communities of color. Communities of color were disproportionately hit by COVID economically and health-wise. The Biden-Harris Administration established the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and prioritized an equitable recovery from COVID-19, achieving equitable rates of vaccination across communities of color.
      • Built pipelines for Black healthcare providers. The Biden-Harris Administration invested $1.5B in growing and diversifying the nation’s healthcare workforce to increase equitable health care in the communities that need it most during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the years to come. This investment has supported over 2,700 providers—a record number of skilled doctors, dentists, nurses, and behavioral health providers committed to working in underserved communities.

Broad Racial Equity Efforts

      • Expanded the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
      • Passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. This landmark federal law makes lynching a federal hate crime. It has taken 200 attempts since 1900 to get this passed.
      • Passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Hate crimes against all Americans rose over 39% in 37 cities in 2021 over 2020. However, across 21 cities there was a 224% rise of hate crimes against victims of Asian descent during the same period.
      • To counter rising hate crimes, Congress passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act which is considered the single most significant piece of legislation to improve federal hate crime data since the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990. The Act also incentivizes state and local law enforcement to provide hate crime training and report hate crimes to the Department of Justice. Finally, it seeks to improve relationships between the AAPI community and police.
      • Passed the Safer Communities Act – the first gun control bill passed in 30 years. In addition to requiring background checks for buyers under 21, closing the “boyfriend loophole,” supporting red flag laws, SCA also provides extensive funding for youth mental health services and anti-violence prevention and intervention programs. For more details, see What A Difference A Democratic Congress Makes section.
      • Passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This Act was passed by the Democratic majority in the House in August 2021 and would restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) after it was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.
      • Passed the George Floyd Policing Act in the House. This sweeping police reform bill was blocked by Senate Republicans, but with a larger Dem Senate majority would be enacted. See Criminal Justice Reform section for more details.
      • Implemented Equity Act plans to advance racial equity and support underserved communities with 90 federal agencies. Biden issued a historic executive order directing the federal government to advance an ambitious equity and racial justice agenda. More than 90 federal agencies, including all Cabinet-level agencies, have released Equity Action Plans which lay out more than 300 concrete strategies and commitments to address systemic barriers in national policies in programs that prevent underserved communities from succeeding. More detail here.
      • Supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their students. The Biden-Harris Administration invested $5.8B in HBCUs to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. This included $1.6B in debt relief from loans provided for capital improvements by the DOE’s HBCU Capital Financing Program for 45 HBCUs. President Biden’s FY22 budget also included over $800M for HBCUs to support research, infrastructure development, and student services.
      • Directed federal agencies to address and improve public safety for Native American and Indigenous communities. President Biden issued an executive order directing the Departments of Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services to improve public safety and justice for Native Americans, and to address the epidemic of missing or murdered Indigenous peoples, which disproportionately affects Native women and girls. The Department of the Interior also established the Missing and Murdered Unit to pursue justice for missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives.
      • Increased the accessibility and affordability of childcare. The American Rescue Plan invested $39B in childcare to compensate early childhood educators, providing a safe and healthy environment for children while their parents work. These stabilization grants were delivered to more than 190K childcare providers, 20% of whom were Black childcare providers, serving more than 8M children.
      • Reduced child poverty by nearly half for Black and Hispanic families and 27% for Asian-American children. The American Rescue Plan expanded eligibility for Child Tax Credits (CTC) to 61.2M children and 26M households. Of these 61.2M children, the CTC applied to more than half of all Black, Hispanic and Asian-American children. As a result of the CTC, child poverty fell to its lowest level on record in 2021 – reducing Black and Hispanic child poverty by nearly half and by 27% for Asian American children. Also:
          • Democrats eliminated a provision that prevented roughly 1/3 of the nation’s children and half of all Black and Hispanic children from fully benefiting — because their families earned too little income. Instead of forcing families to wait until tax time for the CTC as a lump sum, Democrats chose to disburse half of the benefit in monthly payments between July and December.
          • The American Rescue Plan increased the CTC from half to a full credit for half of Black children and half of Hispanic children. Providing the full benefit to all but the highest income families is responsible for 88% of the CTC’s poverty reduction.
          • A permanent expansion of the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit for Puerto Rico families increased CTC eligibility from 10% of Puerto Rico families to 97%.
          • The Biden-Harris administration automatically enrolled hard to reach families with 729K children for the CTC.

LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022