Biden administration unveils sweeping plans on equity

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 training 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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