Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Just yesterday I joined Vice President Harris and members of the Maternal Health Cabinet for a conversation on what this Administration is doing on maternal health. That effort will never make it to the cover of the New York Times. But it will make an impact for moms – for moms of color, for rural moms, for Native American moms – and for their families.
We talked about how carrying and delivering a child is one of the most significant experiences in any mom’s life – something I know a little bit about. People told me having a child was a life-changing event. I did not believe them. I believe them now.
But right now, in this country, giving birth and raising a child is a different experience based on a mom’s income. Her zip code. Her race. Her chances of surviving childbirth can be determined based on those factors. And that’s what we mean when we talk about equity. Because it shouldn’t be like that in the United States of America.
I want to highlight three key areas where OMB is implementing the Biden-Harris agenda to advance equity.
Our Work Supporting Agencies
OMB is here to be a partner to agencies on advancing equity. We recognize that this is a historic and first-of-its kind effort – and that means building new muscle and adopting new approaches in the Federal government.
This requires engaging key stakeholders like you – as well as State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial governments – about how to advance equity through the Federal Government.
OMB put out a public report to the President. We’ve shared resources we collected online. And we created an Equity Learning Community to support agencies as they designed their Equity Action Plans.
The President’s Budget
Last month, we put out the President’s Budget for FY23 – and it makes critical investments in equity. There’s an entire 11-page fact sheet you can find online – and we’ll certainly hear more from agency leaders today – but I want to give a few highlights.
This budget will upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in communities that are often overlooked. And it proposes $111 million for DOT’s Thriving Communities program to help disadvantaged communities advance transformative and climate-friendly infrastructure projects.
It will double the maximum Pell grant award. These grants help nearly 60 percent of Black students, almost half of Latino students, and half of Native students put themselves through college.
It would also more than double Title I funding to help under-resourced schools, which disproportionately serve students of color.
The budget proposes historic new investments in child welfare reforms that would reduce the over-representation of children of color in foster care. (While 1 in 17 children spend part of their childhood in foster care, that number is 1 in 9 for Black children and 1 in 7 for Native Americans.)
And this budget will reinvigorate Federal civil rights enforcement — to support police reform, prosecuting hate crimes, enforcement of voting rights, and more.
Changing the Way the Federal Government Does Business
OMB is working to improve the delivery of Federal services for all Americans. We’re doing this in part by focusing on life experiences — how people actually live their lives.
Families should not have to navigate a tangled web of Government websites, offices, and phone numbers to access the services they depend on. Parents don’t care whether a program is ultimately run by HHS, USDA, Labor, or HUD – they just want to get the help they need for their little ones.
That’s why OMB has provided funding and talent from teams like the U.S. Digital Service to support projects focusing on better delivering services for the people that we serve.
And just yesterday we announced that we are taking on the paperwork and the long lines and the endless documents that people face when they want to access government program services. This is part of a broader effort led by President Biden to deliver better customer service to the American people – including communities that are often underserved. All too often the people who need help the most have the hardest time getting it – and that’s what we’re working to change.
Achieving equity is a generational undertaking. This is not a problem that can be solved tomorrow. But we’re committing to doing the work – and doing it so that it lasts long after any of us are in our offices.
This is ambitious work – and we can’t do it alone. We need you. We want to learn from you. So thank you for your partnership. Thank you for pushing us. For holding us accountable. And for being a part of this critical work. I’m looking forward to today’s conversation.