Committee Remarks

Waters Amendment to H.R. 3996 on Minority Inclusion

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Washington, DC, Nov 18, 2009 | Michael Levin ((202) 225-2201) | comments
Minority Inclusion
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Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) delivered the following opening remarks on her amendment to create Offices of Minority Inclusion at the Federal financial services agencies under the House Financial Services Committee's jurisdiction. The amendment was offered to H.R. 3996, The Financial Stability Improvement Act of 2009:

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am joined on this amendment by all of the Congressional Black Caucus Members who sit on this Committee. We have all joined together on this amendment because the inclusion of minorities and women within the Federal government’s financial services agencies is critical to the success of minorities, women, and minority communities.
 
 Our amendment would establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at each Federal financial services agency within the jurisdiction of this Committee, including the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and any Federal successor agencies.
Our amendment builds off of a provision that was enacted last year in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-289) which established Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. 
 
These offices are needed simply because minorities, women, and minority- and women-owned businesses continue to face challenges in accessing employment opportunities within these agencies and participating in the contracting opportunities provided by these agencies.
 
For example, according to the Office of Personnel Management, in 2006 women accounted for 44.2 percent of Federal employees and minorities accounted for 28.3 percent of Federal employees. However, these levels have declined since 2000 when women made up 45 percent of Federal employees and minorities made up 30.2 percent.

In addition, women and minorities are underrepresented in government positions related to the financial services sector. According to the Office of Personnel Management, minorities comprise only 17.4 percent of Federal economists; 18.1 percent of Federal financial management positions; and 18.7 percent of financial institutions examiners. Women comprise 32.5 percent of Federal economists; 39.1 percent of Federal financial management positions; and 34 percent of financial institution examiners.

On the contracting side, despite some efforts from our financial services agencies to increase the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses, qualified minority- and women-owned businesses continue to be excluded from contracting opportunities made available by the government’s historic intervention at banks and other financial institutions. Of the 67 contracts Treasury has entered into as part of its administration of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), 9 were awarded to small, women- or minority-owned businesses. Of the 12 firms pre-qualified by the Treasury to act as fund managers for the Legacy Securities Public-Private Investment Program, only one was a minority-owned business.

Although some minority-owned firms have entered into partnerships with majority firms, those partnerships have not been meaningful and the minority firms have not benefited to the same extent as the majority firms. In addition, because our agencies like to do business with firms that they already have relationships with, minority- and women-owned businesses have had difficulties getting their foot in the door. For example, when it came to time to choose who would manage its $1.2 trillion mortgage-backed securities purchase program, the Federal Reserve used a closed RFP process and only sent the RFP to firms they knew. These types of deals that exclude the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses must stop.

This is why we are offering our amendment. Specifically, our amendment would

• Require to the maximum extent possible the inclusion of women, minorities, and minority- and women-owned businesses at all levels of business activities, including in procurement, insurance, and all types of contracts.

• Authorizes the Office to advise the head of the agency of the impacts of policies and regulations of the agency on minority- and women-owned businesses. The Office will be responsible for all matters of the agency relating to diversity in management, employment and business activities, including the coordination of technical assistance.

• Requires for contracts greater than $50,000 and the contractor employs more than 50 employees, a written assurance that the contractor shall ensure, to the maximum extent possible, the inclusion of women and minorities in its workforce, and, as applicable, by its contractors.

The inclusion of minorities and women in our financial services programs is long overdue. I urge my colleague to support this amendment.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back the balance of my time."

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