March 3, 2024

The House escalates an already strained battle over the federal government’s diversity initiatives

The House of Representatives is poised to resume this week — and possibly escalate — a spirited debate over the use of taxpayer money for federal government programs and initiatives that seek to promote diversity and equity.

On Monday, the House Rules Committee considered Republican amendments to end funding for diversity and inclusion programs at the Federal Aviation Administration. The amendments were offered to a bill under House debate this week to authorize FAA programs, standards and initiatives.

Just last week, in a close to party vote, the House approved legislation to strip funding for inclusion and diversity Programs at the Pentagon. The debate over the amendments, both on and off the House floor, grew contentious, with the Democratic leader of the House accusing Republicans of being “sympathetic to white supremacy” while Republicans accused Democrats of a “woke” army and ” weak” construction.

The debate came to a head during Thursday’s floor speech, when Representative Eli Crane used the term “colored people” and discussing one such amendment. Crane later issued a statement that he was “disgusted” and said that “we are all made in the image of God and created equal.”

The response from some Democrats was sharp and subdued. Speaker Joyce Beatty, Democrat of Ohio, called for Crane’s words to be “stripped” from the record. Representative Jamal Bowman, Democrat of New York, said in an interview with CBS News about the statement and the debate, “They’re trying to take us back to Jim Crow.”

The amendments to the FAA bill, authored by Representative Mary Miller, Republican of Illinois, and Representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Republican of Georgia, would limit or prohibit the use of taxpayer funding for diversity programs in the FAA. Greene’s amendment calls on Congress to “Prohibit funds from being used for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the FAA.”

Speaking to CBS News, Greene declared, “We’re all equal. It’s time we start acting like it.” She said the FAA’s mandated mission is to ensure safe airspace. “It doesn’t talk about skin color,” she said.

Miller criticized diversity programs in the FAA, telling CBS News, “The implementation of these policies has led to chaos within the FAA.”

Representative August Pfluger, Republican of Texas, told CBS News, “The Federal Aviation Administration should be laser-focused on strengthening a safe, reliable and strong airline industry — not promoting a divisive agenda.”

When asked Monday about the latest set of amendments aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion programs, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, said he was not familiar with the specific proposals, but added, “Amendments offered on the floor so people can discuss them. I. looking forward to seeing them.”

Greene, Miller and members of the House Freedom Caucus are taking aim at a range of diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Washington. Greene said, “They are in every branch of our government.” And she indicated that she would make efforts to reimburse the initiatives at other federal agencies as well.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, criticized Republicans last week for including language in a separate appropriations bill that funds the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior that would prevent funding for diversity, equity , for inclusion and accessibility in the federal workforce. DeLauro rejected the “absurd statements” of funds.

Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, told CBS News, “Sensible bills that have decades of bipartisan support should not end up in the GOP’s imaginary culture wars.”

The fate of the amendments and legislation passed by the House to defund military diversity programs. The Senate takes up its own version of a military authorization bill on Tuesday. Such amendments are unlikely to be approved in a chamber controlled by a Democratic majority.

At a news conference Friday, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, issued a scathing criticism of the effort by House Republicans, accusing them of being “sympathetic to white supremacy.”

After hearing Jeffries’ criticism, Rep. Chip Roy told CBS News, “What we’re trying to do is stop what the Department of Defense and its democratic administration is injecting that kind of divisive social engineering. into the Department of Defence.

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