September 24, 2020

Watson Coleman, DeLauro, García Introduce Expanding Representation at HHS Act of 2020

Legislation Introduced on the 55th Anniversary of President Johnson’s Executive Order Preventing Discrimination Among All Federal Grantees and Subgrantees, Including Those at HHS

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) today introduced the Expanding Representation at HHS Act of 2020 to establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion within each covered agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This legislation would require the head of each covered agency within HHS to take constructive positive steps to seek diversity in the workforce, including in the following areas: recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, sponsoring job fairs in high poverty communities, and placing employment advertisements in outlets that specifically target women and people of color. 

Additionally, the Director of each office would be required to submit an annual report to Congress detailing: the percentage of funds awarded to grantees, subgrantees, contractors, and subcontractors led by people of color and women, the successes achieved and challenges faced by the covered agency in operating the required outreach programs, and recommendations for potential legislative action to create a more diverse work environment.

“The Department of Health and Human Services touches the lives of millions of Americans every day. It is only right that women and people of color get a seat at the table where those decisions are made,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman. “The Expanding Representation at HHS Act takes a proactive stance to ensure that the makeup of the Department and its agencies reflect the diverse makeup of our country. This is part of the work necessary to overcome generations of unequal employment practices and lack of accountability; I look forward to its passage.”

“HHS’s mission is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “As the Chair of the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, the subcommittee that oversees HHS’s more than $2 trillion budget, it is imperative that the Department and its grantees and subgrantees have employees that reflect the rich diversity of our country. Fifty-five years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued an executive order preventing all federal grantees and subgrantees who receive more than $10,000 in government-funded business a year, including those at HHS, from discriminating in their hiring and employment decisions. The federal government has failed to uphold this executive order, and the Expanding Representation at HHS Act will ensure HHS provides equal opportunity to people of color and women.”

“As our country addresses persistent inequities in our health care system, we must first acknowledge that it starts at the top. Our future workforce within the Department of Health and Human Services should reflect the people it serves,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “That is why I am proud to join Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro and Bonnie Watson Coleman in introducing the Expanding Representation at HHS Act of 2020 to establish an ‘Office of Minority and Women Inclusion’ at HHS. Our bill will give women and people of color a seat at the table and help ensure that much-needed funds are reaching our communities in an equitable way.”

The United States is only beginning to address hundreds of years of inequitable access to quality healthcare, discriminatory employment practices including hiring, terminations, and promotions at all levels, and lack of accountability mechanisms to address these inequities. The Empowering Representation Act at HHS is a critical first step to address these inequities. 

The Empowering Representation at HHS Act introduced by Representatives Watson Coleman, DeLauro, and García is cosponsored by Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Michael San Nicolas (GU-AL), Jahana Hayes (CT-5), André Carson (IN-7), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Adam Smith (WA-9), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Terri Sewell (AL-7), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), Al Lawson (FL-1), Joyce Beatty (OH-3), Cedric Richmond (LA-2), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), and Gwen Moore (WI-4).


The full text of this legislation is available here.