Republicans Declare War on Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion

Hadayeva Sviatlana /
Hadayeva Sviatlana /

Congressional Republicans unveiled a bill on Wednesday aimed at upending diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts within the federal government and federal contracting processes. Named the Dismantle DEI Act, the legislation, spearheaded by Sen. J.D. Vance (R., Ohio) and Rep. Michael Cloud (R., Texas), proposes eliminating all DEI positions in federal agencies and prohibiting federal contractors from mandating DEI statements and training sessions.

The bill also seeks to halt federal grants directed towards DEI initiatives, which are currently pivotal in supporting diversity programs across sectors like science and medicine. Additionally, it aims to prevent accreditation agencies from enforcing DEI requirements in educational institutions. It would prohibit national securities associations from imposing diversity mandates on corporate boards, as exemplified by NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange.

Vance emphasized that the DEI agenda fosters division and animosity, asserting it has no place within the federal government or broader society. The proposed legislation represents a comprehensive effort to curtail DEI initiatives across government and regulated entities, foreshadowing potential actions under a hypothetical Republican-led administration akin to policies pursued during Donald Trump’s presidency.

Federal agencies ranging from NASA and the National Science Foundation to the IRS and the U.S. Army mandate some form of diversity training. These workshops have covered topics such as cultural inclusion for tax collectors, male pregnancy for military commanders, and critiques of “white male culture” for nuclear engineers, as highlighted by training materials from Sandia National Laboratories.

Under the Dismantle DEI Act, such training would be banned, and government DEI offices facilitating them would be shuttered. The legislation also includes provisions preventing personnel displaced by these closures from being reassigned to continue DEI efforts under different auspices.

Financially, the bill could yield significant savings by eliminating expenditures on DEI programs. In 2023 alone, the Biden administration allocated over $16 million for diversity training within federal agencies, with additional substantial sums earmarked for DEI initiatives across departments like the State Department and the Office of Personnel Management—agencies the bill aims to dissolve.

A substantial portion of these savings would result from discontinuing DEI-related grants dispensed by institutions like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which allocate billions annually to promote diversity among science funding recipients.

The bill, cosponsored by senators Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), Rick Scott (R., Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Bill Cassidy (R., La.), and Eric Schmitt (R., Mo.), has garnered support from influential conservative advocacy groups, including Heritage Action and the Claremont Institute. It aims to unite Republicans behind a common cause, asserting that DEI initiatives must be terminated.

Cloud emphasized that using taxpayer dollars to fund divisive policies is unjustifiable and asserted that Congress must decisively halt these practices.

The Dismantle DEI Act’s impact extends beyond government agencies to encompass federal contractors, who employ a significant segment of the U.S. workforce. Companies such as Pfizer, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, and Verizon currently administer DEI programs ranging from race-based fellowships to mandatory workshops, prompting public outcry and legal challenges. The bill targets these practices without explicitly banning DEI initiatives in private sectors.

Additionally, the legislation seeks to curtail DEI influence in professional education by challenging accreditation requirements imposed by bodies like the American Bar Association and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. These organizations have mandated DEI content, including anti-racism education, in accredited programs—a development that some members oppose.

While the bill would not outlaw such educational content outright, it would restrict accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Education from enforcing these mandates, thus potentially reshaping professional school curricula.

Unlike previous GOP initiatives focused on content and racial preferences, the Dismantle DEI Act also addresses data collection requirements. It proposes repealing laws that mandate racial demographic reporting within armed services and the collection of diversity and inclusion data by intelligence agencies—steps towards promoting a more color-blind approach in federal operations.

Arthur Milikh of the Claremont Institute emphasized the necessity of combating DEI ideology, characterizing it as detrimental to competence and societal cohesion.

The Dismantle DEI Act represents a robust legislative effort to dismantle DEI initiatives within the federal government and regulated sectors, reflecting broader conservative critiques of such programs as divisive and harmful to national unity and efficiency.