Crist Calls for House Rules Change to Include Racial and Ethnic Impact Score on Legislation

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Washington, DC, October 5, 2020 | comments

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) testified last week before the House Rules Committee, proposing that the Committee require legislation coming to the floor for a vote to include a Racial and Ethnic Impact (REI) “Score” so that lawmakers will have a better understanding about the impact proposed legislation would have on all races: Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans.

The score would be completed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan, federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress. Similar to the budgetary impact score provided by the Congressional Budget Office, Crist’s proposed rule for the 117th Congress would give lawmakers awareness and intentionality for fighting systemic racism or, at the very least, not making it worse.

The score would mark the first time federal lawmakers would automatically have access to quantifiable data analyzing the impact legislation under consideration will have on communities of color. Crist believes that the inclusion of a such a public score in the Congressional Record will make Representatives more aware and intentional about the impact of their legislation, helping to close racial gaps in health, income, life expectancy, wealth, and education.  

Click here to watch the Congressman’s testimony before the House Rules Committee. Text of the Congressman’s full statement for the record can be found below.

Rep. Crist Testimony before the House Rules Committee

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I’d like to thank the Ranking Member, along with all the members of the Rules Committee.  You all work so hard, and the entire House is grateful.

Earlier this summer, Americans from big cities and small towns across this country took to the streets to peacefully protest racial injustice in the largest demonstrations in American history.

Between income inequality, wealth inequality, police brutality, educational achievement gaps, criminal justice inequality, discrimination in lending and appraisals, voter suppression, maternal health disparities, and armed white supremacists proudly marching through American cities, the American people said “enough.” 

Americans of all shapes, sizes, and colors said “Black Lives Matter” and committed to fight racism.  We committed to dismantle systems of racism that hold Black Americans back instead of just going about business as usual.  Being on autopilot while the American experience continues to fail our Black citizens is no longer going to cut it.

It's on all of us to do what we can to truly deliver equal opportunity and equal justice under the law.  We, as legislators, should be aware of and intentional about the racial impact of the policies we make.

That is why I am proposing a small but potentially significant change to the Rules of the House for the 117th Congress.

Just as Committee reports are required by House Rules to include items like a Congressional Budget Office score for budgetary impact, we should ask for a score on racial impact of the legislation the House is considering.  Awareness and intentionality will be important tools for fighting racism – however insidious or accidental – in our policies.

This information will help members who want to tackle racial gaps.  And it will help members who at the very least don’t want to make things worse.

The Congressional Budget Office already has this capability and already provides this analysis upon request.

I ask that we work together, the Party of Lincoln and the Party of Obama, to say that although we may fall short sometimes, we, as a House, are committed to try.  A racial impact score won’t end injustice, but it will be a good start.

Thank you for your consideration, and I welcome any questions about my proposal. 

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