Equality of Opportunity Legislation

          Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the Equality of Opportunity Initiative to develop real, sustainable solutions to help close race-based opportunity gaps in four areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice. Systemic inequalities in these four areas perpetuate broader inequalities in our society, hold back individual and business success, and hinder economic growth.

          This initiative seeks to develop and advance data-driven business and policy solutions to bridge opportunity gaps and ensure that Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed. As part of this effort, the Chamber is identifying specific legislative solutions it is encouraging Congress to pass.

          Attached is an initial list of bills the Chamber is endorsing. We will continue working with members of Congress to identify other proposals to help close the opportunity gaps and will update our list of endorsed bills. Members of Congress who cosponsor these bills will receive credit for the Leadership component of their “How They Voted” rating.

          The Chamber encourages you to cosponsor:

Education

S. 800/H.R. 1766 – College Transparency Act

Led by Sens. Cassidy and Warren and Reps. Mitchell and Krishnamoorthi, this legislation would help address the skills gap by letting students make more informed decisions about their education. The legislation would allow students to find programs that not only suit their interests, but also meet employer needs and lead to success in the workforce post-graduation.  

 

Employment

H.R. 5084 – Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act of 2019

Sponsored by Rep. Meeks, H.R. 5084 would facilitate gender, racial, and ethnic diversity on corporate boards.

S. 1066/H.R. 2055 – An Act Targeting Resources to Communities in Need

Legislation by Rep. Clyburn and Sen. Booker would expand the “10-20-30 formula” to target federal funds to persistently high-poverty communities by directing at least 10 percent of funding to counties where 20 percent of the population has lived below the poverty line for 30 years or more.

 

Entrepreneurship

H.R. 1432 – Minority Business Development Act of 2019

Legislation by Reps. McNerney and Young would authorize the Minority Business Development Agency to consolidate and lead important existing government initiatives to facilitate growth of minority businesses, and to work with the Securities and Exchange Commission to find new opportunities for business owners of color.

S. 4208/H.R. 6869 – Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2020

COVID-19 has disproportionately hurt businesses of color.  S. 4208 and H.R. 6869, sponsored by Sen. Cardin and Rep. Green, would codify the Minority Business Development Agency and would provide additional funding for minority-owned businesses to help them recover from the pandemic. 

S. 1077 – Necessary Entrepreneurship Workshops via the SBA to Transform and Assist Re-entry Training Act of 2019

Sen. Cardin’s bill would create a pilot program within the Small Business Administration for grants to create and support entrepreneurship programs for the formerly incarcerated.

S. 4873 – Reaching America's Rural Minority Businesses Act of 2020

Sen. Wicker's bill would expand and extend education, training, and technical assistance opportunities to rural minority businesses.

Criminal Justice 

S. 1074/H.R. 2168 – REAL Act of 2019

Led by Sens. Schatz and Lee and Reps. Danny Davis and Banks, this legislation would ensure incarcerated individuals have access to Pell grants without restrictions on what school individuals attend and provide access and opportunity to quality education and training for those in prison.

H.R. 2348 – Clean Slate Act of 2019

Legislation by Reps. Blunt Rochester and Reschenthaler would provide a framework for sealing records related to simple possession of marijuana, sealing of records of arrests for certain drug-related crimes that did not result in conviction, and a petition process to seal records related to conviction for certain nonviolent offenses.

S. 4186 – Driving for Opportunity Act of 2020

This legislation by Sens. Coons and Wicker would provide grants to States that do not suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a driver’s licenses or refuse to renew a registration of a motor vehicle for failure to pay a civil or criminal fine or fee, and for other purposes.