The word "diversity" appears 32 times in the coronavirus relief bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) unveiled on Monday. Pelosi released her plan as critics questioned the priorities of Democratic lawmakers facing the China-caused pandemic.
Senate Democrats voted Sunday to block a coronavirus stimulus package worth up to $1.8 trillion, and continued voting down procedural motions on the bill Monday. Democrats in the upper chamber were reportedly upset that the legislation does not do enough to increase fuel-emissions standards for the airline industry or to provide additional tax credits to promote wind and solar energy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Senate negotiations over the relief package were going well until Pelosi imposed herself on the process. Democratic obstruction gave the House speaker time to introduce her own coronavirus relief package in the House. At more than 1,100 pages, the "Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act" is in keeping with the controversial comments Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) reportedly made on a conference call with Democratic lawmakers last week. "This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision," said Clyburn, in reference to the drafting of the House Democratic response bill.
The Pelosi bill focuses on "diversity," for example, more than one might expect from an emergency economic relief package. The plan includes a section on "Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity" that aims to "ensure that corporate boards reflect the diversity and perspectives of the communities and consumers impacted by the hardships due to the coronavirus disease." The word "inclusion" appears 14 times in the text of the bill.
One section of the House Democratic bill, titled "Diversity Report," would establish a congressional oversight panel requiring any corporation that receives federal aid related to coronavirus to provide "diversity data" to congress. The panel would publish a report on its findings the following year.
The required data would include demographic information about the corporation's employees and board members in terms of "race, gender, and ethnic identity." The panel would also demand demographics data on the corporation's suppliers, service providers, consultants, and the various financial institutions utilized by the company.
The "Diversity Report" section also requires companies to compare the salaries of employees based on gender and race and furnish information on the "number of staff and budget dedicated to diversity and inclusion initiatives."
Furthermore, the House bill states that all corporations receiving federal aid "must maintain officials and budget dedicated to diversity and inclusion initiatives for no less than 5 years after disbursement of funds."
The House, meanwhile, is not even in session right now. It would not be able to cast votes on the legislation in the coming days, so any bipartisan deal on a stimulus package is almost certain to be hammered out in the Senate.
Pelosi's decision to inject herself into the conversation had even the talking heads on MSNBC asking, "What was the point of that?" and warning that Democrats risk "overreaching" by demanding left-wing policy items that are "not a part of the coronavirus crisis."
You just can't spin this
MSNBC: "What was the point of that?"
"Um, the House is not in session right now. The House could not vote on this bill tomorrow, or probably the next day or the next day
…There is a political danger of overreaching here"pic.twitter.com/WmPV8XS4rt
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) March 23, 2020