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Democrats Push Radical, Partisan Rewrite of Civil Rights Law Under the Guise of an Education Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2020

House Democrats are advancing legislation they falsely characterize as an education bill. In reality, it’s a bill that radically rewrites the Civil Rights Act without any debate. Specifically, it creates a private right of action, which could lead to additional burdens on school systems and does nothing to eliminate the state’s ability to trap students in low-performing schools.

On the House floor today, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee, delivered the following remarks:

"My Republican and Democrat colleagues agree that separate is not, and never was, equal. Racism is wrong. Segregation is wrong. I'm going to repeat that. My Republican and Democrat colleagues agree that separate is not, and never was, equal. Racism is wrong. Segregation is wrong. Although this body has taken measures to ensure racism and segregation are not to be tolerated, its lingering effects still persist.   
"We continue to strive towards a future where all students, regardless of race or color, have the chance to succeed. While there is more work to be done, the bill before us takes the wrong approach.
"This bill seeks to create a private right of action for disparate impact claims under section 602 of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits federally funded programs and entities from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
"While the Democrats will falsely characterize this bill as 'restoring' a right, and indeed my colleague has just done that, in reality, this bill radically alters civil rights law without any consideration given to the potential ramifications.
"The leftist Center for American Progress called Title VI and disparate impact claims the 'sleeping giant of civil rights laws' that are a 'potentially powerful tool' to advance liberal goals through activist litigation.
"While Title VI is most used in the context of education, the law itself is not confined to that issue. Title VI applies to any program or entity that receives federal funding, which would include education, policing, employment, healthcare, the list goes on and on.
"This is more than an education bill. Despite its far-reaching implications, Democrats deprived the committee of primary jurisdiction any opportunity to debate or consider this bill. That's a really important point to consider.
"As the Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee, the consequences of this legislation within the education community are clear. The creation of a private right of action would lead to additional burdens on already taxed state and local agencies. Especially school systems, who would have to defend themselves against tenuous allegations advanced by parents and activists.
"Through such lawsuits, these activists could require state and local governments to adopt a myriad of policies that Congress and state and local lawmakers never authorized or intended and cost those entities a lot of money payed to trial lawyers.
"H.R. 2574 also creates a new Special Assistant for Equity and Inclusion at the Department of Education. Rather than create multiple, siloed positions competing for resources and attention, Committee Republicans believe an integrated approach to the Education Department’s equity and inclusion efforts would lead to better results.
"Republicans and Democrats largely agree on the importance of equality and integrated schools. Unfortunately, instead of working toward a bipartisan solution, H.R. 2574 is the result of Democrats choosing a partisan path.
"The question is whether, in the long run, these ideas will have helped or hurt the ongoing effort to achieve greater equality for children. H.R. 2574 fails on this front. Committee Republicans believe no effort to erase the evil legacy of segregation and discrimination can be complete without eliminating the state’s ability to trap students in low-performing schools.
"Instead of debating this bill we should look at bipartisan solutions that help expand educational freedom for all families. We know that school choice gives parents and families the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and enroll their child in an institution that challenges them, develops their skills and intellect, and encourages them to reach higher."


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