Ways and Means Racial Equity Initiative Co-Chairs Outline Recommendations for Infrastructure Legislation

Jul 13, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC— As Congress works to craft major infrastructure policy, leaders of the Ways and Means Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative (REI) shared their priorities and recommendations for the legislation. In a memorandum to Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), REI Co-Chairs Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), and Terri Sewell (D-AL) highlighted the ways measures related to transportation, jobs, health care, climate change mitigation, and community investment can purposely counteract generations of discriminatory policy across racial and ethnic lines and expand opportunities for historically marginalized communities, helping to improve the quality of life for all Americans. 
“The Biden Administration is advocating for the next significant piece of legislation to actualize the vision set forth in the American Family and Jobs Plans,” wrote the Co-Chairs in their memo. “Concurrently, the Administration is implementing many policies enacted through the American Rescue Plan. Together, Congress and the Administration can meet this historic moment by wielding federal policy to mitigate adverse experiences and outcomes associated with generations of systemic discrimination and racism. These vehicles represent rare opportunities to advocate for restorative and transformative legislation and equally intentional implementation by the Executive Branch.”
“With Congress poised to make historic investments in our nation’s physical and human infrastructure, we must ensure these bold new policies are inclusive and equitable,” said Chairman Neal. “I applaud Co-Chairs Sewell, Gomez, and Horsford for their thorough, thoughtful work as we approach a particularly consequential period of lawmaking. A central goal of mine as Chairman is for the Ways and Means Committee to pursue policies that reverse the economic and health disparities that contribute to generational struggle for many communities. We all have a stake in these policies – the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that when certain groups are excluded from benefits and protections, everyone is worse off. These Racial Equity Initiative priorities embrace the principle that we need each other to succeed. As the Committee sets about doing its work in the coming months, I plan to incorporate the Co-Chairs’ recommendations into the infrastructure legislation that will ultimately become law.” 

Examples of the Co-Chairs’ recommendations include: 

  • Mitigate gaps in access to affordable mass transit options for underserved communities and remote regions;
  • Ensure policies focused on home ownership provide equitable opportunities to support modernization of existing homes owned by members of historically marginalized groups and in underserved communities;
  • Expand access to clean energy and energy efficiency investments to low-income individuals and community nonprofits serving or employing low-income individuals;
  • Support expansion of the physician workforce by providing educational and training resources to members of historically marginalized communities, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups;
  • Support the ability of older adults and people with disabilities to remain in the home through new programs targeting home and caregiver supports;
  • Develop data infrastructure to support reporting, collection, and evaluation of racial and ethnic disparities, including differences in outcomes for beneficiaries with limited English proficiency, within the Medicare program;
  • Make permanent expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, some of our nation’s largest anti-poverty programs that benefit workers and families of color;
  • Enact paid family and medical leave for all workers, including low-income workers, people of color, and care economy workers who have disproportionately less access to paid leave;
  • Address shortages and expand child care access for all workers and support for the child care workforce which is disproportionately comprised of women of color;
  • Create wealth building opportunities for children, such as child savings accounts or baby bonds; and
  • Prioritize comprehensive job training and financial support for individuals in economically distressed communities experiencing adverse impact on quality jobs due to trade policies.

Read the memo with the REI Co-Chairs’ priorities and recommendations HERE

The Racial Equity Initiative spearheads the Ways and Means Committee’s work to address the role of racism and other forms of discrimination in perpetuating health and economic inequalities in the United States. The March 2021 launch of the REI followed the Committee’s release of a report, “Something Must Change: Inequities in U.S. Policy and Society,” and framework, “A Bold Vision for a Legislative Pathway Toward Health and Economic Equity,” highlighting the policy proposals and the pillars the Committee will focus on as it works to advance equity in the Congress 117th and beyond.