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Remarks by Chairman Horsford at 2024 House Democrats Issue Conference Tri-Caucus Press Conference

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Washington, February 8, 2024 | comments

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Chairman Horsford at the 2024 House Democrats Issue Conference Tri-Caucus Press Conference 


Good morning. 

Thank you for joining us this week for the House Democrats 2024 Issues Conference. I want to thank Pete Aguilar, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus for his leadership and for convening this year's conference. 

I am Steven Horsford, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and Representative of Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. 

I am proud to be joined today by my Tri-Caucus colleagues, Representative Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Representative Nanette Barragán, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss our efforts to push back against the recent attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action last summer. 

Since the ruling, more than a dozen conservative attorneys general have issued letters to Fortune 500 companies threatening legal action over their DE&I efforts which are meant to create more inclusive workplaces and opportunities. 

Since the ruling, the conservative right has engaged in an all-out assault on DE&I initiatives in the corporate sector, in government, and beyond.

Figures like Ed Blum – the architect of the affirmative action cases last summer, Stephen Miller and American First Legal, among others, are engaged in a false and misleading anti-DE&I campaign…

Blum has taken his fight from the Supreme Court to organizations like the Fearless Fund, a Black women-owned venture capital firm that provides seed funding to small businesses owned by Black women and women of color.

Blum’s federal lawsuit against the Fearless Fund alleges that the firm engages in discrimination for providing capital to Black women-owned businesses, despite the fact that small businesses owned by Black women and women of color receive near negligible shares of all venture capital investments…

Additionally, a federal judge in Tennessee struck down a provision in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development program, which now threatens billions of dollars in government contracting for historically disadvantaged groups…

And since the ruling, 13 Rep attorneys general led by Alabama sent a letter to corp America threatening them and Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has issued letters to more than 50 corporate law firms claiming that DE&I initiatives promote discrimination – alleging that their clients’ DE&I programs may be in violation of federal civil rights laws.


Following the tragic murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, corporations around the country pledged more than $50 billion towards racial equity and strengthening their internal DE&I practices…

The attacks we are seeing on DE&I are happening in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that corporations who made DE&I pledges in 2020 were doing the right thing…

These attacks are happening in spite of the fact that the majority of Americans believe that diversity initiatives in the workplace are simply good for business…

They are happening in spite of the fact that the research out of business institutions like McKinsey, BCG, Forbes, and others has proven, for years, that diversity is good for business. 

In fact, McKinsey recently released its 2023 Diversity Matters Even More report, which found that companies in the top quartile for diversity are 39 percent more likely to outperform their peers.

For the past several months, the CBC has been working to hold the line on DE&I and working to call out what is painfully obvious: the attacks on DE&I are an attack on Black people, blackness, and EQUITY. 

Last summer, we got out of Washington on our 14-city Democracy for the People tour hearing from our constituents just how important this issue is to them. 

And this past December, the CBC issued an open corporate accountability letter to Fortune 500 corporations who made public racial equity and DE&I commitments in the summer of 2020, urging them to stand firm to their commitments in the face of these attacks. 

We have set a deadline for corporations to respond to our letter updating us on their progress and asking them to recommit themselves to their pledges by Monday, February 12th. 

Since issuing our letter, the CBC has engaged extensively with corporate America on this issue, and we look forward to aggregating the information that we receive – some of which we will make public. 

In response to our request, those companies will provide formal written responses to the CBC next week.  Our ongoing engagement has been collaborative in nature, we have responded to hundreds of emails about our accountability efforts, held more than 50 meetings with corporate leaders and convened a call with over 300 company representatives to discuss how we can move forward together.

We are eager to receive the formal responses and make an assessment about the strength of corporate America’s commitment to addressing racial inequities and DE&I practices and policies.  We also know that this work is only just beginning. 

Our message to corporate America, and to those who made DE&I pledges: We want to work WITH you. Stand firm, do the right thing, and then work with us to help close the racial wealth gap in America…

Our message to those who wish to see us with less access to opportunities and capital: We know what you are doing, we will continue calling you out, and we will not stop fighting back…

As the Conscience of the Congress, the CBC and our partners in the Congressional Tri-Caucus cannot and will not sit back and allow these conservative actors and their ideologies to win.

We will not allow them to use their tactics of initiating lawsuits to intimidate or scare others as their anti-DEI efforts take hold to the detriment of the communities that we represent. 

In the coming months, we look forward to keeping you apprised of our efforts. 

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