A group of House Republicans introduced legislation on Friday that aims to “prohibit discrimination” in government by banning federal agencies and entities that receive federal funds from granting preferences to individuals based on race, color, or national origin.
The Fairness, Anti-Discrimination and Individual Rights Act – or FAIR Act – was introduced Friday by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wisc.), and three of the House GOP’s most prominent minority members – Reps. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).
The lawmakers say that the bill comes in response to President Biden’s February executive order directing federal agencies to produce an annual “equity action plan,” which they argue is divisive and discriminatory.
“It’s pretty simple. If we are serious about ending discrimination in the United States, the first step is for the government to stop doing the discriminating,” Tiffany, the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement announcing the proposed law.
“It is long past time for the government to take its thumb off the scale and get out of the business of racial discrimination,” he added.
The FAIR Act would bar any federal agency, state or private group the receives federal funds, government contractor, or educational institution from granting preferential treatment based on race, color, or national origin in connection with federal contracting, subcontracting, employment or admission.
“Growing up as a Black American in the Jim Crow South, I experienced firsthand the true ugliness of discrimination based on the color of my skin,” Owens said in a statement.
The former NFL player then ripped Biden, 80, accusing his administration of dividing the country “along racial lines.”
“Our nation’s Constitution is clear: no person shall be subjected to discrimination based on religion, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex or physical or mental disability. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration is determined to divide Americans along racial lines. That is why I am proud to help Representative Tiffany introduce the FAIR Act to continue promoting the ideals of our nation for all Americans — regardless of their skin tone — in the federal government’s hiring, contracting, and funding process,” he said.
Donalds, who like Owens is also black, also laid into the Biden administration, saying it has been promoting equity with “prescribed outcomes.”
“The difference between equity and equality is stark,” Donalds argued.
“While the Biden administration stands for an equity agenda with prescribed outcomes, I am proud to join Rep. Tiffany and my colleagues in promoting equality of opportunity,” he added.
The FAIR Act follows an effort by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in the last Congress to eliminate federal funds to any entity that uses Affirmative Action in hiring.
The lawmakers on Friday did not say if the bill had a Senate co-sponsor, where the legislation is sure to meet stiff resistance from the Democratic majority.
Biden, who has championed diversity efforts, would almost certainly veto the measure if it somehow makes it out of Congress.
New York Democratic Rep. Nydia Velazquez railed against the FAIR Act in a statement on Friday, calling it “reckless and short-sighted.”
“This reckless and short-sighted bill would destroy successful programs that have benefited socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses since the 1960s,” she argued
“Lawmakers introduced this legislation to score political points, but it would have a very real and very negative impact on small businesses if it became law,” Velazquez added.