Republican states urge Congress to reject DEI legislation

A host of Republican-led states are urging Congress to reject two Democrat-sponsored bills aimed at bolstering diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) introduced the Federal Government Equity Improvement Act and the Equity in Agency Planning Act last month as attempts to limit DEI programs continue to spread around the country.

The two bills would push federal agencies to enact policies focused on providing equal opportunity for all, including people of color, women, rural communities and individuals with disabilities.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey argued in a Tuesday letter to Congress that the proposed bills are divisive.

Morrisey addressed the letter to Raskin, who serves as ranking member for the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, and James Comer (R-Ky.), committee chair.

“We should focus on the things that unite us, not on the things that divide us; DEI fosters discrimination,” Morrisey said.

Lawmakers should instead “recommit to building an all-inclusive system of government built on merit and fairness — not inappropriate balance-shifting policies, targets, and preferences,” he added.

DEI has become a hot-button topic over the last few years. Though advocates say DEI policies and programs help close systemic barriers that keep marginalized and minority communities from accessing opportunities in the workforce, education and government programs, Republicans have argued such policies are divisive and unfairly promote or prioritize certain groups of people.

More than 30 states have introduced or passed more than 100 bills to restrict or regulate DEI initiatives. The latest blow to DEI came when the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion was dissolved last month.

“It should be obvious that tracking targeted demographics of persons engaged with the federal government and then using that data to favor some persons over others is the very definition of discrimination,” the letter said.

“It harkens back to the sort of quotas and other exclusionary policies that have been deemed discriminatory for decades, including morally repugnant laws of an earlier time. No wonder so many of our States have affirmatively outlawed these policies in the public and private spheres.”

Nineteen states have signed on to Morrisey’s letter, which argues that the two Democratic bills would “write into law troubling forms of discrimination.”

“By excluding some and preferring others, DEI also threatens to shrink talent pools, bidder pools, and beneficiary pools — driving costs up for the government, hurting productivity, and limiting the reach and success of government programs,” the letter reads.

The attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah also signed onto the letter.

The Hill has reached out to Pressley and Raskin for comment.

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