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Biden Signs Executive Order Disbanding 1776 Commission

President Joe Biden signs executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House, January 20, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order dissolving the Trump Administration’s 1776 Commission, which was established to study the core principles of the nation and to advise the federal government on how to prioritize founding principles in grants and other activities.

The White House claims the commission “sought to erase America’s history of racial injustice.”

Former President Donald Trump established the commission in an executive order in November that aimed to promote “patriotic education” and to push back against accusations that the country is “irredeemably and systemically racist.” The move was seen as pushing back against historical claims made in the New York Times1619 Project.

“Without our common faith in the equal right of every individual American to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, authoritarian visions of government and society could become increasingly alluring alternatives to self-government based on the consent of the people,” Trump’s executive order read.

Biden’s order also revokes “President Trump’s damaging executive order limiting the ability of federal government agencies, contractors and even some grantees from implementing important and needed diversity and inclusion training.”

“Additional actions in the coming weeks will restore and reinvigorate the federal government’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” the White House said in a statement announcing the orders.

The repeal came as part of a series of executive orders aimed at addressing racial injustice and gender equity on Biden’s first day in office. 

“The president-elect’s equity agenda is grounded in advancing racial justice and building back better for communities who have been underserved, including people of color and Americans with disabilities, LGBTQ+ Americans, religious minorities, and rural and urban communities facing persistent poverty,” the statement reads.

The president signed an executive order “beginning the work of embedding equity across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions.”

The order says that advancing equity for all is the responsibility of the whole government and directs every federal agency to complete a baseline review of the “state of equity” within their agency and to prepare an action plan within 200 days “to address unequal barriers to opportunity in agency policies and programs.”

The order also establishes an equitable data working group to “ensure that federal data reflects the diversity of America” and directs the Office of Management and Budget to work to more equitably allocate federal resources to “empower and invest in communities of color and other underserved communities.”

Biden has tasked Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice with leading an interagency process to hold the federal government accountable for “advancing equity for families across America.”

The president also signed an executive order aiming to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.”

The order builds upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County in which a majority ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, written to protect against discrimination on the basis of sex, also protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The order “ensures that the federal government interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“This Order will also direct agencies to take all lawful steps to make sure that federal anti-discrimination statutes that cover sex discrimination prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ persons,” the statement said.

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