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House Energy and Commerce Committee Racial Equity Working Group Unveils Priority Legislation to Address Racial Inequities

November 4, 2021

The Racial Equity Working Group, Led by Reps. Robin Kelly and Yvette Clarke, Requests Committee Hearings on Priority Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Robin L. Kelly (D-IL) and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Co-Chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Racial Equity Working Group, today hosted a press conference to announce a priority list of more than 40 bills aimed to deliver meaningful strides in advancing racial equity within healthcare, broadband access, environmental justice, and other areas where communities of color face the greatest inequities. The members recently wrote to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone, to request that the committee prioritize and hold hearings on the legislation.

Congresswomen Clarke and Kelly were joined by Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (D-CA).

“Through the Racial Equity Working group, I have been working alongside my Co-Chair and friend, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, and our colleagues to drill down on tangible results we, as a committee, can provide to the American communities of color who have faced discrimination, bias, and diminished access to healthcare and economic resources,” said Rep. Robin Kelly. “As Vice Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am hopeful that this priority list of legislation will guide the Committee’s efforts to review and pass legislation that focuses on eliminating racial inequities, especially in healthcare, in communications and technology and in environmental issues. I’m proud this this priority list includes my MOMMA’s Act, to prevent maternal mortality, my Evaluating Disparities and Outcomes in Telehealth bill, and my Consumer Equity Protection bill. This is an opportunity for us to bring real change to people of color whose needs have not been prioritized in the past.”

"Our nation is in the midst of a reckoning over racial injustice. From police brutality to the impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis, these past two years have laid bare the countless inequities facing communities of color each and every day due to decades upon decades of blatant and systemic racism that has been baked into our society, our institutions, and indeed our public policies,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke. “Our nation was formed around the fundamental promise that each and every person will receive a fair shot in life, and yet this promise remains a distant aspiration. The time has come to make the American promise a reality for those who built this country from the ground up and continue to better it each and every day. With the release of this priority list of bills, our Racial Equity Working Group will uplift all efforts already underway to tackle issues of racial inequity that span from the digital divide and maternal mortality to environmental injustice and the ability to drink clean water and breathe clean air. Now, our work continues as we aim to move these critical pieces of legislation to the House Floor for a vote."

“All too often communities of color are forced to bear the worst impacts of the climate crisis, of inadequate investments in health care, of disparities in broadband internet access, with little action taken to right these injustices,” Congressman Tonko said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in the House Energy and Commerce Committee Racial Equity Working Group to say—enough is enough. We have outlined powerful legislation today and I am hopeful that the Committee will continue to prioritize addressing historic inequities and supporting environmental justice communities and other disadvantaged Americans.”

“As Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee and a member of the Racial Disparities Working Group, I am proud to work alongside my colleagues to deliver real solutions that will reduce racial disparities and increase equity across the United States. We must hold our economy, health care and technology sectors accountable for ensuring not just quality of care, but equity of care,” said Rep Schakowsky. “Earlier this year, I introduced the IMPACT to Save Moms Act as part of the Black Maternal Health ‘Momnibus’ package, to work towards continuous health insurance coverage for pregnant women. I am also proud to be a co-lead of the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would provide a robust investment in Medicaid home and community-based services and ensure good-paying jobs for care workers – a majority of whom are women of color being horribly underpaid. All of these bills will make a real difference in reducing discrimination and racial disparities. We must take action and do our part to ensure that ALL communities have access to this country’s resources.”

The priority list of legislation is available here.