Eviction Moratorium Heads to Supreme Court, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act Heads to Senate: Aug. 26 Joint Center Roundup

Biden Administration

Eviction moratorium heads to the Supreme Court: A coalition of landlords and real estate trade groups in Alabama and Georgia challenged the latest eviction moratorium extension by the Biden administration. The group questions the “staggering amount of power” the CDC has and told the Court the moratorium “was a cynical response it should not tolerate.” The Biden administration urges the Supreme Court to leave a moratorium on evictions in place as the rise of the Delta variant has “made conditions much different from when the court looked at the issue in June.”

Justice Department doesn’t appeal order blocking financial aid for farmers of color: The U.S. Department of Justice did not appeal a judge’s order “against provisions in a March coronavirus aid bill that created a $4 billion program aimed at forgiving the debts” for farmers of color. Neal Devins, a William & Mary law professor, told Politico that it’s “very unusual not to defend a statute that you support,” but noted that the Department may “fear a more consequential loss.” For example, if the appeal is denied it could “potentially” lead to ”a Supreme Court showdown that could set back other race-conscious programs, including affirmative action.” A USDA spokesperson told Politico that the “United States government will continue to fight these lawsuits in the district courts in the weeks and months ahead” because ”providing debt relief is an important component of USDA’s broader commitment to taking bold, historic action to rout out generations of systemic racism.”

Black Economic Alliance executives call for increased federal investments in Black businesses: Black Economic Alliance executives Ursula Burns, Robert F. Smith, John W. Rogers, Jr., and David G. Clunie wrote an op-ed “outlining how the Biden administration can deliver on its diversity pledges after the Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.” The four Black Economic Alliance executives call for an “increase in federal spend allocations that go to Black businesses” and for federal contractors to diversify the types of companies of color they engage, including “firms in professional services, financial services, legal, advertising, technology, and other related fields.” They write: “Currently, only five percent of federal contracting dollars are required to go to minority and women-owned businesses, even though Black people alone account for approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population. That paltry five percent target has resulted in millions of dollars in missed opportunity for Black businesses, workers, and communities. We can and should increase the federal contracting minimum for Black firms to 13 percent, commensurate with the country’s Black population.”

Whip Clyburn shares Biden administration’s accomplishments for Black communities: In an op-ed for Howard University’s student newspaper, U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC)—who endorsed President Biden during the 2020 election—chronicles President Biden’s actions that help Black communities, including appointing “the most diverse Cabinet the country has ever seen,” signing executive orders to achieve racial equity, expanding the Child Tax Credit, allocating $5 billion to Black farmers (update above), appointing Black women judges to courts that are historically stepping stones to the Supreme Court, and investing in HBCUs. Whip Clyburn also noted that “much more needs to be done” including moving forward with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and a commission to study reparations.

Harris builds leverage: Vice President Kamala Harris is using her convening power to expand her political network and strengthen key connections for the Biden administration, as well as line up potential support for a possible future presidential bid, Politico reports.

Advocates call on Biden to focus on Black immigration: President Biden’s promise to “build a fair and just immigration system” in the proposed federal budget resolution sparks particular interest for advocates who question the administration’s commitment to the plight of Black immigrants. According to a report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Black immigrants are “more likely to be deported than immigrants of other races are,” and face additional stressors from racism, xenophobia, and criminalization. Advocates contend struggles of Black immigrants have been left out of larger conversations and call on officials to “address the ways immigration policies harm Black immigrants.” Black people account for 7 percent of the immigrants in the U.S.


The Hill

House $3.5 trillion budget plan moves forward: In a 220-212 vote, the House adopts rule allowing Democrats to immediately begin working on the $3.5 trillion social benefits package and requires the House to review the Senate-passed bipartisan bill by September 27. Democrats explain some pieces of the legislation, such as making changes to Medicare benefits, will be “relatively easy to do,” while others, such as creating a new universal childcare program will be “much more challenging to craft.” President Biden thanks Majority Whip Clyburn (D-SC) and the entire House leadership team for “the hard work, dedication, and determination to bring people together so we can make a difference in people’s lives.”

John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act moves to the Senate: On Tuesday, House Democrats approved H.R.4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in a 219-212 vote. The bill now faces an uphill battle in the Senate where it will need 10 votes from Senate Republicans to get it through the chamber. The bill requires states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to gain approval from the DOJ before implementing change to voting procedures. Congressional Black Caucus membersChair Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH),Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC), andCongresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) express their gratitude.

Diversity of the CBC: The Congressional Black Caucus diversifies their approach to political action and strategy as new members “shaped by the Black Lives Matter movement” push for “a more combative activist streak,” according to the New York Times. The CBC has historically focused on “supporting Black incumbents and their congressional allies in re-election efforts.” Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, however, says the group still functions as a “family” despite differing approaches to political and legislative change.

Qualified immunity scrapped: Legislators negotiating a police reform bill in Congress, including Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), have given up on reaching an agreement on qualified immunity, a policy that shields police from civil liability for misconduct, Politico reports.

BET to air CBCF 50th Annual Legislative Conference: On Sept. 17, BET will air programming from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 50th Annual Legislative Conference. The programming will include a National Town Hall with “renowned thought leaders” for a conversation about “the importance of creating a Black agenda, honoring Black voices in a democracy, and addressing the most pressing issues for the Black community today” and the Phoenix Awards ceremony hosted by Angela Bassett. More information on the conference can be found here.


Appointments

Biden draws criticism after nominating Rahm Emanuel: President Biden nominated former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan, but as a Los Angeles Times column outlines Emanuel has a negative track record on police reform and institutional racism. While serving as the mayor of Chicago, Emanuel “engineered the largest number of school closings in the city’s history” which mostly affected poor Black neighborhoods, and one of many accused of covering up the true events of a police killing by refusing to publicly release the dashcam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald before he was shot and killed by Officer Jason Van Dyke. According to Joint Center research, approximately 22 percent of President Biden’s votes during the 2020 general election were from the Black community.

Several Congressional Black Caucus members have released statements opposing Senate confirmation of Emanuel, including Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO) and Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY). More than two dozen national organizations, including Black Youth Project 100 and Demand Progress Education Fund, released a joint statement opposing Emanuel’s nomination.

Biden nominates Breon S. Peace to be U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York: Mr. Peace has been a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York since 2007. He previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York from 2000 to 2002. Mr. Peace also served as a law clerk for Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York from 1997 to 1998.

Biden nominates Damian Williams to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York: Mr. Williams is currently serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he has been since 2012. He has previously served as a Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, and as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Mr. Williams also served as a law clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court from 2008 to 2009, and Judge Merrick B. Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit from 2007 to 2008.


Economic Policy

CTC cuts childhood hunger: The first round of Child Tax Credits, issued as part of the American Rescue Plan last month, cut food insecurity among families with children by 24 percent, according to Politico. However, Black households with children still report more than twice the rate of food hardship of White households.

Homeownership gap widens: The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has widened an already yawning gap between Black and White homeownership. While Black homeownership rates remain relatively stalled at 44 percent, White homeownership increased from 73.7 percent to 74.5 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to Census Bureau data.

Black homeownership stalls in NYC: Black homeownership in New York City has been limited by gentrification, a lack of affordable inventory, and the disproportionate impact of the subprime mortgage crisis. As of 2019, 28 percent of Black households were owner-occupied according to an analysis by the New York Times.

COVID fallout hit moms harderYoung mothers (aged 18-29) were more likely than fathers to be unemployed, work fewer hours, or leave the labor force prematurely, a new report on COVID-19 impacts finds. Single mothers, about half of whom are Black or Latinx, were hit hardest by employment declines, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Stimulus did its job: Supplemental unemployment insurance benefits offered during the pandemic prevented the spending declines seen during the Great Recession, a JP Morgan Chase study of spending habits finds. Yet Black households cut their spending to a greater degree than White households.

Don’t repeat past mistakes: With the passage of a major infrastructure bill, the Washington Post warns planners to protect historic Black neighborhoods in the face of new highway construction, noting the historic leveling of Black communities in cities from Baltimore to Oakland to make way for federal highway construction in the past.


Tech Policy

Telehealth boost: The Biden-Harris administration will invest more than $19 million to expand telehealth and improve health care access in rural and underserved communities.

Pricing auto insurance more fairly: Experts and activists are calling for insurance industry regulators to ban the practice of using credit scores to determine auto insurance prices, calling it a form of economic racism. While the National Association of Insurance Commissioners voted to adopt a broad series of measures to study the underlying causes of racial discrimination in the industry, activists say “[i]t’s more of a wish list of activities than a systematic approach to examining and addressing issues of race and insurance.”

Put all types of broadband on the table: Former FCC commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Robert McDowell called on the House to support all viable broadband technologies, including fixed wireless, in passing the infrastructure spending bill, Roll Call reports. They argue that fixed wireless technology can provide an “effective and speedy method to connect rural, unserved and underserved communities” to high-quality and lower-cost broadband.

Laura Murphy trailblazing corporate civil rights audits: Following her groundbreaking audit of Facebook, ACLU veteran Laura Murphy is calling for a new corporate civil rights audit to prod companies to address racial inequities in their organizations, Bloomberg reports.

AI racism: A primer on algorithmic racism illustrates the numerous ways AI perpetuates racial bias. Black home buyers’ credit scores are 57 points lower than White home buyers, and Black defendants are given higher risk scores than White defendants in the criminal justice system, Citizen.org reports.


Future of Work & Learning

The big sort: Nearly two-thirds of workers are looking for new jobs, an August poll finds. Sixty-seven percent of Black workers surveyed said they were seeking a higher-paying position, compared to 57 percent of White workers, CNBC reports.

Moving up: More lower-wage workers are using their new-found leverage to upgrade from dead-end jobs to higher paying positions with a viable career path and more upward mobility, the New York Times reports.

Overhaul unemployment insurance: As an estimated 7.5 million workers stand to lose unemployment benefits soon, the Brookings Institution calls for an overhaul of the unemployment insurance system to address equity problems. The Black unemployment rate, at 8.2 percent in July, remains highest for any racial group.

Funding to boost UI access: The Department of Labor is offering states up to $260 million in grants to promote equitable access to unemployment compensation programs, including to address disparities Black workers face in accessing programs.

Pay gap persists: Black workers continue to earn less than White workers at every level of educational attainment. One analysis found a $96 billion pay gap between Black and White workers within occupational categories, wrote Jobs for the Future Vice President Michael Collins in Bloomberg.

Training gaps persist: Black people continue to face disparities in learning and skills necessary to successfully compete in today’s economy, the Lumina Foundation finds. Only 32 percent of Black Americans have a degree or credential compared to 49 percent of White Americans.

Student loan debt deepens: Student loan debt added to the economic hardship following COVID-19. In 2017, 21 percent of Black adults had student loan debt compared with 15 percent of all adults who had completed at least a high school education, according to a new Census Bureau study.

Benefits do not significantly disincentivize work: Of the 26 states that eliminated federal unemployment benefits before the September 6 expiration date, only eight saw a significant drop in unemployment, contradicting the argument that jobless benefits were keeping workers out of the job market. The premature cutoff of benefits likely could disproportionately affect Black workers, who compose 18.4 percent of those receiving such benefits, Politico reports.


COVID-19

Delta consumes the South: As of August 21, southern states—including several counties in the Black Rural South—are among the hardest hit by the more contagious Delta variant, as a New York Times ongoing case-count map reveals (chart above).

Mistrust, access—not politics—drive vaccine gaps: The politicization of COVID-19 vaccination is less pronounced among the elderly and nursing home residents, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution. Vaccine hesitancy among Black nursing home residents, for example, tends to be rooted in more traditional concerns, including mistrust of the medical system due to racism and barriers to access.

Teachers divided: Vaccine mandates are creating conflict between the nation’s largest teachers unions, which have endorsed vaccine requirements for teachers, and their members, who are focused on mask rules and student vaccinations, Politico reports.

Building better mental health supports: An analysis of how schools are prioritizing mental health care in the wake of COVID-19 calls for equity in hiring, culturally responsive social-emotional learning, and disaggregating data by race and ethnicity.


Political Studies

Voting rights bills also protect LGBTQ communities: The passage of federal voting rights legislation, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, is critical to protecting LGBTQ voting rights, advocates tell the Washington Post.

Georgia voting ranks surge: Fully 95 percent of voting-age residents in Georgia are now registered to vote, up from 76 percent in 2016, a new federal election report reveals. Automatic registration at driver’s license offices is the primary reason for the increase in voter registrations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Racial equity perception gap: A new Pew Research study of how Americans view the nation’s progress toward racial equity reveals widely differing beliefs along both racial and party lines. Only 19 percent of Black adults surveyed said the U.S. has made significant progress in ensuring equal rights for all Americans. In contrast, over half two-thirds (56 percent) of White adults believe significant progress has been made.


Movement Building

National Urban League partners with Chase for Business, Black Enterprise, the U.S. Black Chambers, and the National Minority Supplier Development Council to launch Advancing Black Entrepreneurs, an educational program designed to help Black business owners grow and scale their business through 90-minute guided digital sessions.

Black Voters Matter, Color of Change, the Poor People’s Campaign, and several other civil rights organizations will hold a “Make Good Trouble” rally at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 to call action toward voting rights, raising the minimum wage, and ending gun violence – among many others.

SisterReach hosts the Pearls Pantry program in Memphis, TN to provide clothing and food items for families in need.


Events

Upcoming events include “Upskilling Detroit: The Kelly Certification Institute” (Lumina Foundation, August 31); “Opening More Doors with Dual Enrollment: Lessons from Educators on Expanding Access to College” (Carnegie Math Pathways, September 10); “EconCon 2021” (Groundwork Collaborative, October 6-7).

Last week, events were held by Center for American ProgressNational Skills Coalition, and SisterReach.


Podcast

Ep. 57: Career and Technical Education Goes Hybrid (Inside Higher Ed)

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