Advancing Equity and Racial Justice Through the Federal Government
“It is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government.”Executive Order 13985
On his first day in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The Order recognized that, although the ideal of equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, entrenched disparities in our laws, public policies, and institutions too often deny equal opportunity to individuals and communities. The President’s Order emphasized the enormous human costs of systemic racism, persistent poverty, and other disparities, and directed the Federal Government to advance an ambitious, whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the challenges we face as a country and the opportunities we have to build a more perfect union.
Over the last two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has championed racial equity and advanced equal opportunity for underserved communities through landmark legislation including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act, as well as through historic executive actions. During the President’s first year in office, 90 agencies across the federal government created Equity Action Plans – first-of-their-kind roadmaps to address the barriers and discrimination that underserved communities face. These efforts have advanced the work of building a more equitable nation. Learn more about our progress in implementing the Equity Action Plans launched in 2022.
Yet members of underserved communities — many of whom have endured generations of discrimination and disinvestment — still confront significant barriers to realizing the full promise of America. The federal government has a responsibility to make every effort to remove these barriers.
Advancing equity is not a one-year project – it is a generational commitment that will require sustained leadership and partnership with all communities. To strengthen the federal government’s equity mandate, on February 16, 2023, President Biden signed a second Executive Order on equity that directs the federal government to continue the work to make the promise of America real for every American, including rural communities, communities of color, Tribal communities, LGBTQI+ individuals, people with disabilities, women and girls, and communities impacted by persistent poverty. This second equity Executive Order requires agencies to designate senior leaders accountable for implementing the equity mandate; directs agencies to produce Equity Action Plans annually and report to the public on their progress; requires agencies to improve the quality, frequency, and accessibility of their community engagement; formalizes the President’s goal of increasing the share of federal contracting dollars awarded to small disadvantaged business by 50 percent by 2025; directs agencies to spur economic growth in rural areas and advance more equitable urban development; instructs agencies to consider bolstering the capacity of their civil rights offices and focusing their efforts on emerging threats like algorithmic discrimination in automated technology; directs the White House Office of Management and Budget to support agencies’ Equity Action Plans and invest in underserved communities each year through the formulation of the President’s budget; and further promotes data equity and transparency.
The Biden-Harris Administration has a far-reaching equity agenda, which also includes implementing the first-ever national strategy on gender equity and equality; working to ensure the federal government is a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the workforce; delivering environmental justice through the Justice40 Initiative; and advancing LGBTQI+ civil rights. These commitments also reflect attention to the reality that some individuals experience discrimination based on multiple factors and are particularly underserved.
The Administration remains committed to deepening the partnership between government and communities impacted by discrimination to deliver more equitable outcomes across our nation.
Select the area of interest to explore The 2022 agency equity action plans
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Defense
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Justice
- Department of Labor
- Department of State
- Department of Transportation
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- General Services Administration
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- National Science Foundation
- Office of Personnel Management
- Small Business Administration
- Social Security Administration
- U.S. Agency for International Development
- Peace Corps
President Biden is renewing the federal government’s commitment to making the American Dream real for families across the nation by taking bold and ambitious steps to build a more equitable economy. To meet this mandate, agencies are advancing equity for workers and jobseekers who face barriers and discrimination, strengthening social safety net programs that provide economic security, and supporting wealth building by growing opportunities for businesses in underserved communities. For example:
Advancing equity through employment opportunities
- The Department of Labor will deliver equitable access to workforce training for historically underserved workers and job seekers to address persistently high unemployment rates faced by communities of color, people with disabilities, and other underserved communities. The Department of Labor is also launching a comprehensive initiative to address systemic barriers to accessing Unemployment Insurance for underserved workers.
Strengthening the social safety net
- The Social Security Administration will address systemic barriers to program participation in key safety net programs including disability and retirement benefits, and will expand access to legal representation for individuals navigating the disability insurance appeals process.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs will improve access and outcomes for underserved veterans across key programs and services, including pension benefits and small business supports.
Supporting opportunities to build wealth in underserved communities
- The Treasury Department will capitalize community finance partners to ensure the flow of mission-driven capital reaches underserved families, businesses, and neighborhoods that need it most. Treasury will also advance an equitable tax system in which all Americans receive the benefits for which they are eligible
- The Department of Commerce will expand resources to help communities of color and rural communities overcome the barriers to starting a business and accessing economic development investments.
- The Small Business Administration will invest in improved technology to increase access to capital for businesses in underserved communities by streamlining program applications and integrating data.
Advance economic security and self-determination for Tribal Nations and Native communities
- The Department of the Interior will advance equity for Native communities by improving access to grants for Tribes, streamlining applications, and providing more technical assistance to Tribal governments.
Educational Equity and Pathways to Opportunity
From pre-K through postsecondary and adult learners, education has the power to bring the American Dream within reach of every individual and meet our nation’s vast potential. To meet this potential, agencies are reckoning with and addressing the long-standing disparities that underserved students and communities face in achieving equal educational opportunity.
Advance equity in K-12 education
- The Department of Education has supported equitable recovery from COVID-19 for students, teachers, and schools through the effective use of American Rescue Plan funding for K-12 students by requiring states and school districts to use diverse and inclusive community engagement as they develop plans for using federal funding, and will continue to provide guidance and technical assistance to help educators meet the needs of all students, especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- The Department of Defense will advance educational equity for military families, including students who are members of underserved communities by implementing innovative special education programs to provide more inclusive experiences for students, including those with disabilities. DOD will also increase access to childcare, on- and off-base, recognizing its importance in supporting spousal employment.
Expand access to higher education for underserved students, including by investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)
- The Department of Education will advance college access and college completion by investing in HBCUs, MSIs, TCUs community colleges, and other under-resourced public institutions, and supporting schools to raise completion rates for underserved students, with a particular focus on supporting students with disabilities who face persistent barriers to college completion.
- The Department of Energy will set a goal of increasing the percentage of grants awarded to HBCUs and MSIs to 15 percent by 2025, including with funding for research and development activities.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will enhance grants and cooperative agreements to advance opportunities, access, and representation for HBCUs and MSIs by exploring the launch of a Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program to foster collaboration and partnerships between NASA centers and MSIs.
For far too long, environmental policy decisions have failed to adequately account for environmental injustice, including the disproportionate and cumulative impacts pollution and climate change have on low-income communities and communities of color. President Biden has made clear that his Administration will chart a new and better course by advancing environmental justice, including through implementation of the Justice40 Initiative which will ensure that 40% of the benefits of investments in clean energy reach disadvantaged communities.
Address the disproportionate burdens of pollution and climate change on underserved communities
- The Environmental Protection Agency will develop a comprehensive framework for considering the cumulative impacts of pollution on underserved communities in EPA decisions and operationalize that framework in EPA’s programs and activities. EPA will also integrate community science into EPA’s research and program implementation to ensure underserved communities can help inform decision-making and advance environmental justice and self-determination.
Promote climate change resiliency and energy efficiency for low-income households
- The Department of Energy will improve access and equity in the Weatherization Assistance Program to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reducing their total residential energy expenditures, and improving their health and safety.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency will support at-risk communities in planning for and mitigating hazards by piloting programs to use data to identify mitigation activities, to advance equity, and to conduct more targeted outreach to underserved communities.
Remediate environmental damage caused by federal activities
- The Department of Defense will seek opportunities to increase investments that advance equity by addressing past harms resulting from environmental and other impacts from defense activities on communities around military installations and bases, which disproportionately impact Tribal lands and Native communities.
Advancing civil rights is fundamental to making real the promise of our nation – that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. Affirmatively advancing civil rights is a central aspect of the government’s work to deliver more equitable outcomes for underserved communities. Yet federal civil rights offices have often been under-resourced to deliver on their mission. Many agencies are reinvigorating the work of their civil rights offices to deliver justice and equal protection under law to underserved communities facing discrimination.
Strengthen civil rights enforcement as a core part of advancing equity
- The Environmental Protection Agency will invest in resources to reinvigorate the agency’s civil rights work to address the impacts of potentially discriminatory activities on overburdened communities.
- The Department of Transportation will expand its enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent harmful disparate impacts from transportation projects in underserved communities.
- The Department of Labor will advance fairness for underserved workers by equitably implementing the Nation’s wage and hour protections to support underserved workers who are the most vulnerable to wage theft and violations.
Reduce opportunities for bias in federally-developed Artificial Intelligence
- The Department of Defense will advance the safe and equitable use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology by investing in agency-wide responsible AI development and investing in the development of a more diverse AI workforce including through the Department’s partnerships with HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will leverage its initiative on artificial intelligence and the use of algorithms in employment decisions to bring stakeholder together to advance innovating ways to advance workforce inclusion and diversity.
- The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection will develop a toolkit to aid staff in evaluating the impact of deceptive or unfair practices in the use of emerging technologies (e.g., algorithmic bias and the gig economy) on underserved communities.
Expand language access
- The Department of Justice will improve access to justice programs and resources for individuals with limited English proficiency to ensure all communities understand their rights, can report crimes, and have full and equal access to DOJ’s services and resources.
- The Department of Labor will ensure workers with limited English proficiency are fully aware of their rights and can access workplace protections by increasing the agency’s language capacity through hiring and retaining more bilingual and multilingual staff.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will address the barriers that individuals with limited English proficiency face in accessing health services and benefits. HHS will expand access to in-language assistance across the agency’s outreach materials, including through telephonic interpreter services, and will provide federal funding to expand language access services.
A once-in-a-century pandemic highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing disparities in our health care system. President Biden took swift action to promote an equitable recovery from COVID-19 by lowering health care costs for millions of low-income families, advancing equitable vaccine distribution and access through partnerships with community-based organizations, and directing federal agencies to prevent anti-Asian xenophobia and bias as they responded to the pandemic. As our nation continues to recover from COVID-19, agencies are advancing health equity, addressing the social determinants of health, and expanding access to quality and affordable health care to meet the needs of underserved communities.
Expand health coverage and improve health outcomes for underserved communities
- The Department of Health and Human Services will advance health equity for underserved communities by providing targeted outreach to communities of color to encourage enrollment in free and low-cost health care as well. HHS will also respond to the national maternal mortality crisis by addressing the increased pregnancy and postpartum morbidity and mortality among Black and American Indian and Alaska Native pregnant and childbearing people.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs will advance health equity for underserved veterans by addressing the social and economic determinants of health for underserved veterans, including veterans of color and veterans who live in rural communities where care is harder to access.
Address disparities in nutrition security
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture will expand equitable access to nutrition assistance programs by improving access to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition assistance program.
Serve as a model employer on health equity
- The Office of Personnel Management will advance health equity for federal employees by improving the process for selecting healthcare benefits plans and strengthening health literacy among public servants.
Too many people—disproportionately Black and brown people as well as poor people—are incarcerated and face systemic disparities in our nation’s criminal justice system. Many Americans face an uphill struggle to secure a decent job, stable housing, and basic opportunity when they are released from jail or return from prison. At the same time, gun violence disproportionately takes the lives of Black, brown, and Native American people, and addressing this urgent problem through prevention, intervention, and enforcement is a matter of racial equity. The Biden Administration is working to reduce incarceration, end racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and facilitate successful reentry, while keeping our communities safe and working to end the epidemic of gun violence.
Build trust between the public and federal law enforcement agencies to promote public safety
- The Department of Justice will engage with underserved communities more regularly, including by expanding language access for people with limited English proficiency, to improve the Department’s understanding of the interests, needs, and perspectives of marginalized and underserved communities, and to strengthen and increase public confidence and trust in the Department. Such engagement will help to ensure that law enforcement serves the needs of the communities it is sworn to serve; increase reporting of crimes and hate incidents; improve witness cooperation and participation in the justice process; ensure appropriate consideration of the needs of victims; improve the dissemination of important information, resources, programs, and services; and enhance public trust and public safety. promote cooperation, and enhance public safety.
- The Department of Justice will improve language access to its programs so that Americans with limited English proficiency can better report crimes, understand their rights, and otherwise have full and equal access to the Department’s programs and resources.
- The Department of Homeland Security will work to ensure that underserved communities are treated fairly in airport screenings by enhancing training for officers on supporting travelers from multiple underserved and historically marginalized communities.
- The Department of Homeland Security will improve the process to file complaints and seek redress in programs by providing seamless and comprehensive language access to complaint and redress procedures.
Protect underserved communities from domestic violent extremism
- The Department of Homeland Security is countering domestic violent extremism to address the terrorism-related threat to our country posed by white supremacists and other domestic terrorists, and to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of religious, ethnic, racial minority, and other communities.
Housing Justice and Community Investment
Diverse and inclusive communities strengthen our democracy. But during the 20th century, federal and local governments systematically implemented discriminatory housing, transportation, and community investment policies that segregated neighborhoods, inhibited equal opportunity and wealth creation, led to the persistent undervaluation of properties, and placed the disproportionate burden of pollution in communities of color and low-income communities. Federal agencies are addressing their historic roles in systematically disinvesting in communities of color, rural communities, and communities facing persistent poverty.
Advance equity through homeownership, home valuation, and housing security
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to eliminate the racial homeownership gap. HUD will address the disproportionate rates of homelessness among people of color, low-income individuals and families, veterans, and LGBTQI+ Americans. Having initiated the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE), co-chaired by Secretary Fudge, HUD is expanding actions to reduce bias in home appraisals, including by evaluating issues related to biased appraisals in mortgage transactions and Automated Valuation Models.
Expand access to opportunity through transportation investments
- The Department of Transportation will increase investments in underserved communities and neighborhoods by launching a national assistance center to provide direct, hands-on support to underserved and overburdened communities to strengthen planning, project development, grant applications, and project delivery.
Invest in underserved homeowners, neighborhoods, and communities impacted by disasters
- The Department of Commerce will administer nearly $50 billion in grant funds to invest in broadband infrastructure deployment, affordability, and digital inclusion efforts to help close the digital divide in underserved communities.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency will close the flood insurance gap to increase the financial resilience of flood-prone, low-income households. FEMA will promote equitable outcomes for disaster survivors by increasing eligibility for assistance programs to underserved and vulnerable applicants.
Equity in the Global Context
Strengthening inclusive democracies worldwide is a core tenet of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy. To advance this goal, agencies are using American leadership abroad to advance equity, human rights, and full inclusion for communities that are underserved or face barriers to inclusion.
- The State Department will engage high-level diplomatic partners and individuals worldwide from underserved racial and ethnic groups and other underserved communities to and embed equity, gender equality, and LGBTQI+ protections into U.S. foreign policies. The State Department will also combat disinformation, which can sow discord among communities and undermine democratic norms.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development will invest in resources to help advance human rights and non-discrimination protections in foreign assistance, and will designate an Inclusive Development Advisor focused on elevating considerations of marginalized groups.
Embedding equity in the everyday business of government
Agency Equity Action Plans include innovative new strategies that agencies are using for the first time to embed equity in day-to-day governing.
The onerous experiences that individuals and entities can encounter when trying to access a public benefit are known as “administrative burdens.” These burdens can include long lengths of time spent on applications and paperwork, answering duplicative notices and phone calls to verify eligibility, and navigating outdated government websites. Research indicates that administrative burdens disproportionately harm underserved communities, leading to underutilization of critical services and programs, as well as unequal costs of access, often by the people and communities who need government services the most. When agencies work to mitigate administrative burden, their efforts advance equity, meet the needs of underserved communities, and improve efficiencies. Agencies are reducing administrative burdens by:
- Reducing the complexity of applications and other forms and ensuring the instructions are clear and comprehensible
- Ensuring notices are written clearly and incorporate design best practices (such as prioritizing key information in headings, text boxes, and bold text, and excluding information not relevant to the immediate task at hand)
- Shifting more in-person interview requirements to telephone or video-teleconference
- Conducting proactive outreach to individuals who may be unlikely to respond to typical notices, such as individuals who do not speak English as their native language, individuals with vulnerable housing situations, or individuals with certain cognitive impairments.
Stakeholder engagement is critical to identifying innovative solutions with the communities who are most directly impacted by inequitable policies. Many federal agencies already conduct stakeholder engagement processes (including notice-and-comment sessions, town halls, forums, requests for information, and other forms of public engagement). However, these efforts are often perceived by stakeholders and agencies alike as being inaccessible or disconnected from the needs, interests, and priorities of diverse populations. When agencies engage stakeholders through equitable processes, they increase community trust in government, which enables agencies to have better information about community challenges – to learn about local innovation on the ground which could be scaled up, which can improve policymaking and service delivery. Agencies are enhancing stakeholder engagement by:
- Inviting genuine community discussion and debate on issues that are meaningful in the lives of everyday people
- Engaging trusted community intermediaries and accessible, relevant channels between underserved populations and government
- Tailoring forums, listening sessions, consultations, and other forms of engagement to make participation a realistic option (e.g., a listening session scheduled in the middle of a weekday is not likely to attract participants who do not have the flexibility to rearrange their work schedules to attend)
- Recognizing that meaningful communications channels will differ in rural and urban settings or different regions of the country (e.g., technology may be a solution in some instances and a barrier in others, especially to those without broadband access or with only a basic cellphone and limited data plans)
The Federal Government is the world’s largest and most influential buyer. By making federal procurement opportunities more readily available to all eligible vendors and by removing the barriers faced by underserved communities and individuals to entering the federal marketplace, equitable procurement is a core strategy for addressing racial and gender wealth gaps. Too often, however, small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) must spend countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars learning how to navigate government contracting process to compete against larger and more experienced firms. This can be a serious barrier to entry for SDBs. Agencies are expanding equitable procurement opportunities to implement the President’s commitment to increase federal investment in SDBs by 50%—an estimated additional $100 billion—by 2025. Actions include:
- Identifying and then using communication channels that are accessible to communities to make more meaningful connections with a broader range of businesses (e.g., with local chambers of commerce, supplier scouting, business development, and technical assistance programs)
- Creating better information about procurement opportunities and buying trends and promoting greater transparency
- Reducing agency administrative burden in procurement and contracting
- Using programs to address inequity, such as section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the AbilityOne Program, which are designed to expand job opportunities for people with disabilities
Federal funding disbursed through grantmaking supports activities that touch every American, including medical research, infrastructure, student aid, public housing, and disaster assistance. These funds are available to individuals, companies, universities, non-profit organizations, State, Tribal, territorial, and local governments, and small businesses. Yet persistent barriers make it difficult for under-resourced and underserved communities to compete for and effectively deploy such funds. For example, grants managers in organizations that have received federal funding report spending more time on burdensome compliance activities than on supporting program results. Federal financial management policies can play a significant role in ensuring that Federal resources are allocated equitably. Agencies are embedding equity in grantmaking by:
- Helping underserved communities learn about and navigate federal funding opportunities, providing technical assistance throughout the application process, and making federal funding applications simpler and easier to navigate
- Reducing administrative burden in grants applications and in compliance activities
- Ensuring that application reviews are equitable by using evidence-informed decision-making processes
- Including consideration of equity impacts in Notices of Funding Opportunity, and tracking the extent to which financial activities as budgeted advance equitable outcomes
The Federal government’s ability to collect and analyze disaggregated data is essential for advancing equitable outcomes. That is why the Equity Executive Order established a first of its kind Equitable Data Working Group to coordinate with agencies to expand their collection and use of demographic data and other equity data. Better demographic data can offer insight into whether government programs, benefits, and services are reaching all communities. Agencies report several challenges to equitable data collection and reporting. Access to data is sometimes restricted by statute—for example, available only in restricted environments to avoid compromising individuals’ privacy. In other cases, data needed to answer a question or respond to an issue do not exist at all, or currently only exist at a very low quality. For example, even when data may be collected by race and gender, it may not allow or enable research or evaluation at the intersection of race, gender, and other characteristics (e.g., examining the impact of a policy on those who are Asian American and also identify as women, or on Latinos who live in suburban areas). Agencies are improving equitable data practices by:
- Identifying the specific barriers that the agency faces and designing agency-specific initiatives to address those barriers and building capacity for equitable data science, including for intersectional analysis
- Addressing the data barriers that uniquely impact specific communities, for example by improving the collection of disaggregated data on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and increasing the collection of data of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
- Facilitating community access to disaggregated data while protecting individual privacy and promoting public trust in the data. Developing practices, across agencies, to determining when and how to efficiently, effectively, and appropriately acquire disaggregated data—including race, ethnicity, gender, identity, sexual orientation, and disability data
Delivering equity in the Biden-Harris Administration
The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity has delivered concrete results for communities that have often been underserved by the federal government:
Cut poverty by historic rates
- Brought child poverty to its lowest level on record in 2021 – with record low Black and Hispanic child poverty, through the expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
- Provided summer meals to over 30 million kids, 10 times more than the less than 3 million children who got summer meals in 2019.
- Increased the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by over $36 per person, per month through updates to the USDA’s Thrift Food Plan.
- Nearly tripled the valued of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 17 million workers without dependent children from $540 to $1,500, providing a lifeline to front-line workers, including cashiers and retail salespeople, cooks and food prep workers, and childcare workers.
Delivered an equitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Created the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and invested in their recommendations to prioritize an equitable recovery from COVID-19.
- Achieved equitable rates of vaccination across communities of color.
Ensured an inclusive economic recovery
- Signed and implemented the American Rescue Plan, legislation that has powered historic jobs recovery, delivered 170 million Economic Impact Payments to 85% of all Americans, expanded rent relief for millions of households, and got people back to work. Released a historic assessment of how the federal government’s economic recovery efforts impacted underserved communities by releasing the American Rescue Plan Equity Report, reviewing the outcomes of 32 different American Rescue Plan programs that represent nearly $900 billion or 60 percent of American Rescue Plan.
- Released $260 million to eliminate administrative barriers that disproportionately prevent workers of color from completing benefit applications, like accessing unemployment insurance.
- Provided Restaurant Revitalization Funds to support over 72,000 restaurants owned by women and people of color.
- Made Emergency Rental Assistance payments to over 4 million renters, 80% of whom make below 30% of area median income.
- Oversaw the largest calendar year drop in Hispanic Unemployment on record.
- Invested $500 million in workforce training partnerships across 31 states and Puerto Rico to help secure high-quality jobs that include good pay, benefits, and career mobility for an expected 50,000 Americans, prioritizing workers from underserved communities in urban and rural areas.
- Invested nearly $100 million in grants to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking capital to grow and scale their businesses.
- Provided $3.1 billion in funding to distressed USDA farm loan borrowers and $2.2 billion in assistance to farmers who have experienced discrimination in USDA’s farm lending programs, under the Inflation Reduction Act.
Signed historic legislation to address the climate crisis and lower costs for working families
- Signed the Inflation Reduction Act to deliver on the promise to build an economy that works for working families, and communities that have been on the frontline of climate change. The Inflation Reduction Act lowers costs, advances environmental justice while building a cleaner future, and grows the economy from the bottom up and the middle out by creating good-paying, union jobs across the country. The Inflation Reduction Act will:
- Lower health care costs, including prescription drug costs, and expand health insurance coverage – advancing health equity and access for low-income and underserved communities. The law caps the amount that Medicare beneficiaries pay for prescription drugs at $2,000 per year and caps the amount that seniors will have to pay for insulin at $35 for a month’s supply. The law also lowers health insurance premiums and expands health care coverage, disproportionately helping communities of color who are more likely to be uninsured.
- Take the most aggressive action on climate and clean energy in American history by making it more affordable for families to purchase energy efficient appliances, and protecting communities of color who are more likely to be impacted by pollution and environmental hazards.
- Create Environmental Justice Block Grants, a dedicated program to tackle pollution in port communities – where air pollution is especially dense and deadly.
- Advance transportation equity and resilience with a new Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant program to improve walkability, safety, and affordability, including projects to protect against extreme heat, flooding, and other impacts.
- Expand urban forestry programs with tree-planting projects that help cool neighborhoods, with a priority for projects that benefit underserved communities.
- Lower the deficit and ask the ultra-wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share.
- Ensure that no one earning under $400,000 per year will pay a penny more in taxes.
Delivered equitable infrastructure investments
- Signed and implemented the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law providing an historic opportunity to advance equitable outcomes in underserved communities, and making long overdue investments in communities of color, rural communities, and persistent poverty communities that have faced decades of disinvestment and harmful investments in infrastructure. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will:
- Bring clean drinking water to the 10 million American households that still face lead pipe exposure.
- Close the digital divide by connecting the 30 million Americans who live in areas where there is no broadband or high-speed internet.
- Invest $21 billion to address the legacy of pollution that harms the health of disadvantaged communities.
- Invest $92 billion to repair and modernize our public transportation systems – which communities or color are twice as likely to rely upon to get to work.
- Fund a new $1 billion program to reconnect communities harmed by previous infrastructure investments, like communities of color that were further segregated by federal highway construction.
- Create millions of good-paying, union jobs, expanding employment opportunities for underserved communities, and addressing the barriers that workers of color, women, and people with disabilities face in accessing jobs in high growth trades industries.
- Invested nearly $1.9 billion in underserved rural communities for projects such as expanding access to housing and water infrastructure in FY22.
- Launched the Rural Partners Network, an all-of-government program led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to transform the way federal agencies partner with rural places to create economic opportunity. The RPN helps rural communities find resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure, and support long-term economic stability on their own terms. The RPN has expanded and now includes 36 community networks across 11 states and Puerto Rico.
- Launched the Thriving Communities Network, a multi-agency program to support underserved communities access federal support and technical assistance to take transformative infrastructure projects from concept to completion. The Network provides place-based technical assistance and capacity-building resources to urban, rural, and Tribal communities experiencing a history of economic distress and systemic disinvestment. This effort includes resources to help disadvantaged communities with grant and financial management, pre-development assistance, community engagement, planning, and project delivery support.
- Targeted the deployment of federal place-based technical assistance and capacity-building resources, through the Thriving Communities Network, to urban, rural, and Tribal communities with a history of economic distress and systemic disinvestment. Resources will support financial management, community engagement, planning, and delivery of infrastructure and equitable development projects.
- Launched a new Voluntary Community-Driven Relocation program to assist Tribal communities severely impacted by climate-related environmental threats, leveraging the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to commit $115 million for 11 severely impacted Tribes to advance relocation efforts and adaptation planning.
Expanded opportunities for small disadvantaged business
- Set a government-wide goal to increase the share of federal contracting dollars awarded to small disadvantaged businesses, including minority-owned businesses, by 50% by 2025 and thereby investing $100 million in such businesses to help close the racial wealth gap. The first two years of the Biden-Harris Administration have marked record performance in terms of share of contracting dollars reaching small disadvantaged businesses.
- Announced reforms to the federal procurement process to help meet the President’s ambitious target and deliver new opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses, including minority-owned businesses.
Addressed discrimination in the housing market
- On June 2, 2021, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, launched the interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE) to address inequity in home appraisals. On March 23, 2022, the Task Force published the PAVE Action Plan, the most wide-ranging set of reforms ever put forward to advance equity in the home appraisal process. The Administration is implementing the action plan to make the appraisal industry more accountable, empower homeowners and homebuyers, and help ensure that every American to have a chance to build generational wealth through homeownership.
- Signed a Presidential Memorandum directing HUD to redress the Federal Government’s history of discriminatory housing policies and practices.
- Proposed a new “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule that aims to remedy the long history of discrimination and patterns of segregation and proposes mechanisms that would provide greater accountability and transparency to ensure that underserved communities have equitable access to affordable housing opportunities.
Defended the sacred right to vote and civil rights
- Took all-of-government action to promote voting access and to further the ability of all eligible Americans to participate in democracy.
- Called for Congress to pass comprehensive voting reform, including essential steps to restore the Voting Rights Act, even if it takes ending the Senate filibuster to get it done.
- Protected our democracy by signing the bipartisan Electoral Reform Count Act into law, which establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President, to preserve the will of the people and to protect against the type of attempts to overturn our elections that led to the January 6 insurrection.
Advanced health equity and access to affordable health care
- Expanded access to zero-premium and low-premium health insurance plans for uninsured disadvantaged communities and increased enrollment in quality, affordable health coverage, including 16.3 million people who signed up for insurance through the ACA Marketplaces.
- Implemented policies to reduce unacceptably high maternal mortality rates among Black and Native American women.
- Secured, for the first time in history, advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service, which will ensure a more predictable funding stream and improve health outcomes across Indian Country.
- Launched a new national strategy for expanding access to mental health care which will address the disproportionate burden of mental illness in communities of color and other low-income communities.
Advanced climate justice
- Launched the Justice40 Initiative to ensure that federal agencies deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other investments to disadvantaged communities.
- Launched the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, which measures burdens such as legacy pollution and projected climate risk and has identified 27,251 geographically-defined disadvantaged communities across the U.S. that can benefit from the Justice40 Initiative.
- Deployed funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program to help low-income households ensure that their homes are dry, clean, and safe, and that their energy bills are more affordable.
- Launched new programs to maximize the benefits of climate and clean energy investments directed to disadvantaged communities.
- Helped underserved communities that are often most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change fund hazard mitigation needs for a more resilient future.
- Launched new funds to replace the nation’s existing fleet of school buses with clean and zero-emission buses, ensuring cleaner and healthier air for children and families.
Advanced public safety and criminal justice reform
- Signed and is implementing a historic Executive Order in May 2022 to advance police reform and build public trust and public safety. The order requires federal law enforcement agencies to ban chokeholds, adopt stricter use-of-force policies, greatly restrict no-knock warrants, implement body-worn cameras, provide de-escalation and anti-racial profiling training, establish a national database of officer misconduct records, enhance use-of-force data reporting, ban the transfer of certain military equipment to local law enforcement, improve officer recruitment and retention, and more.
- Cracked down on profiteering by signing and implementing the Private Prisons Executive Order, resulting in over 8,000 people in federal custody being moved out of privately operated facilities to date.
- Secured the first dedicated federal funding for community violence intervention (CVI) programs in history—$100 million in each of FY22 and FY23—through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and appropriations. CVI programs have been shown to reduce violence by up to 60%.
- Signed an Executive Order to improve public safety and criminal justice for Native Americans, and address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.
- Directed $1 billion in supplemental funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services, including $49.5 million for culturally-specific community-based organizations that help survivors from historically underserved communities access the services and support they need.
- The President took bold action to address our failed approach to marijuana. The criminalization of marijuana possession has upended too many lives—for conduct that is now legal in many states. While white, Black, and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are disproportionately arrested, prosecuted and convicted for it. In October 2022, the President announced a full, unconditional, and categorical pardon for prior federal and D.C. offenses of simple possession of marijuana. This pardon lifts barriers to housing, employment, and educational opportunities for thousands of people with those prior convictions. The President also called on every state governor to follow his lead, as most marijuana prosecutions take place at the state and local level. And because this Administration is guided by science and evidence, he called on the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to expeditiously review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.
Fought for gender equity and LGBTQI+ rights
- Released an ambitious gender equity agenda in the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which outlines an approach to advance gender equity and equality at home and abroad with attention to compounded burdens that some individuals and communities experience. The strategy’s government-wide implementation is underway, as each federal agency develops an action plan to execute on key priorities.
- Took historic actions to advance LGBTQI+ equality, including signing the Respect for Marriage Act, expanding non-discrimination protections for LGBTQI+ people in housing, healthcare, education, and the criminal justice system, restoring open service for transgender service members in the military, and addressing the crisis of anti-transgender discrimination and fatal violence, taking on the discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy”, and strengthening the federal government’s collection of data on LGBTQI+ communities and the barriers they face.
- Proposed new rules to strengthen Title IX’s protections for students against sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault to ensure that all students, including women, girls, and LGBTQI+ students, can access equal educational opportunity.
Promoted education excellence and equality
- Provided $130 billion to help schools safely reopen and stay open, address learning loss and support student mental health, with $122 billion in funds distributed according to states’ and districts’ Title I share, benefitting high-poverty communities. This funding is being used to help schools safely operate, and implement high-quality summer learning and enrichment programs, hire nurses and counselors, support the vaccination of students and staff, and invest in other measures to take care of students.
- Implemented a first-of-its-kind maintenance of equity requirement to ensure that high-poverty school districts and schools are protected from funding cuts.
- Delivered $5.8 billion in cumulative investment for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and increased the maximum value of Pell Grants by $400, helping 75% of students in HBCUs, Minority-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities afford their education.
- Signed Executive Orders on advancing educational equity, excellence, and economic opportunity for Black, Hispanic, and Native students.
- Working to provides student loan debt relief to low- and middle-income borrowers to make sure financial harms related to the pandemic don’t leave borrowers worse off with respect to their loans. President Biden’s one-time debt relief plan provides up to $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). More than 70% of Black undergraduate borrowers are Pell Grant recipients and Black borrowers are twice as likely to have received Pell Grants compared to their white peers. No one in the top 5% of incomes will benefit from this action. By targeting relief to borrowers with the highest economic need, the Administration’s actions are likely to help narrow the racial wealth gap. While litigation is currently preventing the Administration from providing this debt relief, the Administration remains confident that the program is legal.
- Proposing an income-driven repayment plan that will cut monthly payments in half for undergraduate student loans and caps monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income—half of the rate that borrowers must pay now under most existing plans. This means that the average annual student loan payment will be lowered by more than $1,000 for both current and future borrowers.
- Approved a total of $48 billion in student loan relief to date to nearly 2 million student loan borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges, enrolled in a college that abruptly closed, are permanently disabled and unable to work, and borrowers who serve our country through government or non-profit work. Achieved the largest increase to Pell Grants – increasing the maximum award by $900 over the last two years – to ensure students have more money in their pockets to pay for college and expanded access to Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals.
- Launched a Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program to foster partnerships between the agency and HBCUs, Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), community colleges, and very high research-intensive universities.
Addressed hate-fueled violence and hate crimes
- Directed all commanding officers and supervisors in the Department of Defense to conduct a “stand-down” to discuss extremism in the ranks with their personnel.
- Embraced the protection of civil rights and civil liberties as a national security imperative, releasing the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.
- Signed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, committing to stop the increase in violence against Asian American communities.
- Hosted the historic United We Stand Summit at the White House. Established the White House Initiative on Hate-Motivated Violence to strengthen interagency coordination, leverage federal research and resources, and enhance engagement in preventing and responding to hate-motivated violence, as well as initiated the mobilization of over $1 billion in new investments to increase support for programs that build bridges among Americans of different backgrounds to foster unity. Established an interagency group with more than 20 agencies to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of bias and discrimination. The interagency group’s first order of business is to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism.
- Issued new guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in incidents targeting the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
Ensured our nation’s public servants look like America
- Appointed a historically diverse Cabinet, including achieving gender parity among the President’s Secretaries, confirming the most Latino Secretaries ever, and confirming the first openly LGBQTQI+ Cabinet Member, first Native American Secretary, and first Black Secretary of Defense.
- Hired appointees that look like America – more than half of all Biden appointees are women, and half identify as people of color.
- Nominated historically diverse judges, and confirmed the first Black woman in American history to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court – Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. In his first two years in office, 65% of President Biden’s judicial nominees were people of color, and 67% were women. In fact, President Biden has confirmed more African American women as circuit court judges than all other previous presidents combined. During his first two years in office, President Biden saw 21 Latino federal judges and 17 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander federal judges confirmed. President Biden also saw confirmed the first Muslim American federal judge in our country’s history, and the first two openly LGBTQI+ women ever to serve as federal circuit court judges. President Biden has confirmed more federal circuit court judges with experience as public defenders than all prior presidents combined.
- Signed an Executive Order to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the federal workforce, ensuring public servants at all levels have equal opportunity to succeed and thrive.
Enhanced engagement with communities that have been historically excluded from decision-making processes.
- Hosted the second White House Tribal Nations Summit in November 2022 to help foster Nation-to-Nation relationships and provide Tribal leaders with an opportunity to engage directly with senior Administration officials. The President signed a new Presidential Memorandum on Uniform Standards for Tribal Consultation, establishing uniform standards to be implemented across all federal agencies regarding how Tribal consultations are conducted.
- Established new advisory committees at agencies to better engage impacted Americans and equity experts in shaping federal policy.
- Incorporated Community Benefits Plans requirements into funding opportunities that require applicants to include a description of stakeholder engagement activities and detailed plans to deliver Justice40 benefits to disadvantaged communities, to contract and partner with underrepresented groups, and to create high-quality jobs.