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Reps. Bass Issues Statement On Biden Administration Actions To Further Racial Equity and Support Underserved Communities

January 26, 2021
Press Release
WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) issued the following statement after President Joe Biden signed four executive actions to advance racial equity and take first steps to root out systemic racism in housing and criminal justice.

“The actions taken today by President Biden are such a needed breath of fresh air for our country. For four years, the Trump administration peddled lies, deceit and hatred out of the Oval Office. In redressing racially discriminatory federal housing policies and ending the Department of Justice’s use of private prisons, the Biden administration today took a concrete step towards advancing racial equity for Americans who have been underserved and left behind. I look forward to working with Ambassador Rice and my colleagues here in Congress.”

More about the President’s actions: 

Advance Fair Housing: President Biden will sign a Presidential Memorandum “Redressing Our Nation's and the Federal Government's History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies.” This memorandum recognizes the central role the federal government has played implementing housing policies across the United States, from redlining to mortgage discrimination to destructive federal highway construction, that have had racially discriminatory impacts. The Fair Housing Act requires the federal government to advance fair housing and combat housing discrimination, including disparate impact discrimination that appears neutral but has an unjustified discriminatory effect in practice. This Presidential Memorandum directs HUD to examine the effects of the previous Administration’s regulatory actions that undermined fair housing policies and laws. And, it directs HUD to take steps necessary based on that analysis to fully implement the Fair Housing Act's requirements.

Reform our Incarceration System to End the Use of Private Prisons: More than two million people are currently incarcerated in the United States, and a disproportionate number of these individuals are people of color. Mass incarceration imposes significant costs on our society and communities, while private prisons profiteer off of federal prisoners in less safe conditions for prisoners and correctional officers alike. President Biden is committed to reducing mass incarceration while making our communities safer. That starts with ending DOJ’s reliance on private prisons. The Order directs the Attorney General not to renew Department of Justice contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities.

Reaffirm the Federal Government’s Commitment to Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation: The Biden Administration is committed to re-establishing federal respect for Tribal sovereignty, strengthening the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the federal government and American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, empowering self-determination, and advancing racial justice for Native communities. This Executive Order reinvigorates the commitment of all federal agencies to engage in regular, robust, and meaningful consultation with Tribal governments.

Combat Xenophobia Against Asian American and Pacific Islanders: While bullying and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) is a long-standing and unacceptable problem in our country, rates of harassment and violence against AAPIs have risen dramatically in the past year. President Biden will sign a Presidential Memorandum acknowledging the harm that these actions have caused, and establishing that the policy of his Administration is to condemn and denounce anti-Asian bias and discrimination. This Memorandum directs the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to consider issuing guidance describing best practices to advance cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards AAPIs in the federal government’s COVID-19 response. It also directs the Department of Justice to partner with AAPI communities to prevent hate crimes and harassment against AAPIs.