Congressional Transportation Leaders Tout White House Focus on Equity

Sen. Tom Carper (left), shown with President Joe Biden, cited leveraging the power of the federal government to protect underserved citizens. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

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Congressional transportation policy leaders endorsed the Biden administration’s aim at improving access to freight and commuter corridors through an enhanced focus on equity.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), along with senior Democratic policymakers, recently touted the new governmentwide initiative designed to facilitate connectivity across certain low-income areas of the country. The White House unveiled initiatives related to its so-called equity action plan this month.

“I am thrilled to see the Biden-Harris administration use its executive power to continually find ways to promote equity and racial justice within the federal government. With the recent onslaught of state laws that target marginalized groups and communities, it is more important now than ever that we leverage the power of the federal government to protect and benefit those who have historically been left behind or faced discrimination,” Carper said in a statement April 15.



“From addressing legacy pollution in environmental justice communities to ensuring access to housing, or providing benefits for our veterans, there is always more we can be doing to right our past wrongs and give all Americans a chance for opportunity, dignity and prosperity,” he added.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) added, “For too long, our most toxic, polluting industries have been located next door to black, brown, indigenous and low-income communities at the expense of their health while too many in power have looked the other way.”

Duckworth is a member of the committee on freight affairs with jurisdiction over trucking regulations.

“I applaud the Biden-Harris administration for implementing racial justice and equity initiatives across more than 90 federal agencies to help underserved communities that are too often overlooked by the federal government,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) noted.

He is a member of the small business panel.

Booker

The White House announced this month more than 90 federal agencies unveiled equity action plans outlining strategies and objectives responding to concerns and economic challenges across historically underserved communities. The move was prompted by a presidential executive order.

“It is therefore the policy of my administration that the federal government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality,” according to the executive order. “Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government.

“The president has made equity a priority in the implementation of two of the most ambitious legislative packages in generations, with the goal of ensuring an inclusive response and recovery from the pandemic and in rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure,” according to a White House summary of the plan posted April 14.

Leadership at the U.S. Department of Transportation pointed to the recent $1 trillion infrastructure law as a tool meant to help address traditional inequities along certain communities, some of which are situated along key freight corridors.

Per DOT: “Transportation policy can help level the playing field, transform economies, connect people to opportunity and empower underserved communities to build generational wealth for the future. In partnership with community leaders, state and local governments, and the traveling public, the department will be a key part of realizing the vision for this vital work.”

DOT and the Department of Labor are collaborating on a trucking workforce program meant to recruit individuals who have been underrepresented in the industry, such as women and racial minorities.

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