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Ranking Member Cole Opening Remarks During Hearing on H. Res. 908, H.R. 2574, H.R. 2639 and H.R. 2694

As prepared for delivery during today’s hearing:

We’re here today to consider four measures, three bills emerging from the Education and Labor Committee and one non-binding resolution.

The two bills I’ll discuss first seek to address diversity and inclusion in education. H.R. 2639, the Strength in Diversity Act, provides grants to schools and school districts to develop or implement plans to improve diversity. And H.R. 2574, the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act, adds a private right of action, or the ability for private litigants to bring lawsuits, for disparate impact claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It also requires recipients of federal education funds to designate a coordinator for compliance efforts for civil rights laws.

When considering these two bills, the best I can say for both is that they represent another missed opportunity for bipartisanship. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House already agree that enforcing civil rights laws and embracing our diversity as a nation are important goals, as foundational as the great American principle of equality. Unfortunately, instead of trying to work together, the majority has decided to sow division and bring up two partisan bills that stand no chance of becoming law. 

It is unfortunate, Mr. Chairman, that this is once again the case. I keep hoping that we will see more bipartisanship from the majority, particularly on issues of such great importance to the country.

Our third bill is H.R. 2694, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and thankfully this bill actually was the subject of real negotiation between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, my understanding from Ranking Member Foxx is that this bill is mostly bipartisan, and the only item the committee could not come to an agreement on was the inclusion of an exemption for religious organizations. I think it is a great sign for this bill that the two sides were able to come to an agreement on all but one point, and I would strongly support the committee providing a rule that allows for a vote on that particular point on the floor so that all members of the House have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.  

Regardless, I commend both Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Foxx for their hard work on this bill, and while it’s unfortunate they were unable to come to a final agreement, I think we should recognize their efforts made to resolve things prior to consideration by the House.

Finally, the non-binding H. Res. 908 condemns all forms of anti-Asian sentiment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I think every member of the House agrees with the general sentiment of this resolution, I will point out that the House is missing an opportunity by spending time on a non-binding resolution that is clearly just another anti-President Trump message rather than considering legislation that will actually help people, particularly Asian-Americans. We’re within two weeks of government funding expiring, and the American people continue to struggle with a simultaneous economic downturn and a pandemic.  

If the majority truly wants to help people, you should put forward a substantive, bipartisan piece of legislation that provides real solutions for Americans. Unfortunately, it has instead become standard operating procedure for my Democratic colleagues to simply pull out the same old playbook and resort to messaging documents against the President. 

Mr. Chairman, at some point the majority must decide if it wants to only score political points or if it wants to truly govern. I fear that resolutions like this show exactly where the majority’s priorities lie, and sadly, it is not in providing real solutions for the American people.

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