White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said Tuesday the Biden administration will work to advance "racial justice and equity," adding that building a "more equitable" economy is "essential" to economic growth.
Rice briefed reporters from the White House press briefing room on Tuesday, just hours before President Biden is set to sign a number of executive actions on the issue.
Rice, who is "leading this effort out of the Domestic Policy Council," said that the administration has "a first-rate team to drive this agenda forward" to advance "equity for families across America."
"We have support of every White House office and every agency in this work," Rice said. "Advancing equity is everybody’s job."
Biden is expected to sign a presidential memorandum to direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take steps to redress racially discriminatory federal housing policies that the administrable says have contributed to wealth inequality for generations.
The memorandum is expected to recognize the "central role" the federal government has played implementing housing policies across the United States, from redlining to mortgage discrimination to destructive federal highway construction—all of which, the administration says, have had "racially discriminatory impacts."
The president is also expected to sign an executive order to end the Justice Department’s use of private prisons. The order will direct the attorney general not to renew DOJ contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities.
Biden is also set to reaffirm the Federal Government’s Commitment to Tribal Sovereignty and Consultation, in an effort to re-establish "federal respect" for Tribal sovereignty, and strengthen the "nation-to-nation relationship" between the federal government and American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes. Biden’s move is also intended to empower self-determination and advance racial justice for Native communities.
Also on Tuesday, Biden is set to sign a presidential memorandum to combat xenophobia against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. The memo directs the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Biden COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to consider issuing guidance describing best practices to advance cultural competency, language access, and sensitivity towards AAPIs in the federal government’s COVID-19 response. It also directs the Department of Justice to partner with AAPI communities to prevent hate crimes and harassment against AAPIs.
Rice said the administration is ready to "hit the ground running," and said the president would deliver an address on plans to advance racial justice and equity later Tuesday.
Rice said Biden will "renew the federal government’s commitment to making the American dream real for families across the nation," and will "expand opportunities for communities that have been left behind."
Rice said that investments in underserved communities are "at the heart of our recovery.""These aren’t feel good policies," Rice said. "The evidence is clear. Investing in equity is good for economic growth and it creates jobs for all Americans."
Rice said that economists have predicted that if the U.S. "closed racial gaps in income and opportunity, we could add $5 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 5 years and add over 6 million new jobs."
"Building a more equitable economy is essential if Americans are going to compete and thrive," Rice said.
She added: "I believe we all rise or fall together. Advancing equity is a critical part of healing and of restoring unity in our nation."
Last week, Rice said Biden is expected to put "racial justice and equity at the center of our agenda," and said he will bill a "whole of government approach to racial justice."
On his first day in office last week, Biden signed an executive order to "define equity as the consistent and systemic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals." That includes those who "belong to underserved communities such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; LGBTQ+ persons; people with disabilities religious minorities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise affected by persistent poverty or inequality."
Biden, last week, also directed federal agencies to review the state of equity within their agencies, work with the Office of Management and Budget to "equitably allocate federal resources to empower and invest in communities of color and other underserved communities;" improve the delivery of government benefits services to ensure families "can access opportunity," and more.
Last week, Biden also signed an executive order that prohibits against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.