Support the Richardson Amendments to H.R. 7: Equal Opportunity Assessment and Comptroller General Evaluation and Report

Media 02.2.12

Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Representative:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more
than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all
persons in the United States, we urge you to vote in favor of two amendments
expected to be offered by Representative Laura Richardson (D-CA) at the markup
of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, H.R.7. First, the Equal
Opportunity Assessment Amendment requires a quadrennial national report that
would analyze data on demographics and compliance with existing civil rights
laws, such as Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which prohibits
discrimination in federally-funded programs) and the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Second, the Comptroller General Evaluation and Report
Amendment would assess the progress and effectiveness of the Federal Transit
Administration (FTA) in assisting federal fund recipients’ compliance with nondiscrimination

The Equal Opportunity Assessment Amendment would be a new tool that
would assist federal, state, and local transportation officials in increasing
transparency and accountability, and avoid lapses in civil rights safeguards.  The Equal Opportunity Assessment Amendment
would also improve efficiency and predictability in compliance with existing
civil rights laws, as it will help identify problems that agencies and
recipients may take coordinated measures to address; and will ensure that
governmental resources and guidance intended to target barriers to equal
opportunity do so effectively. To date, there has been no comprehensive and
nationwide data analysis on the way budget and project decisions impact
specific communities. Communities of color, low-income people, and
communities with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the decisions
of both rural and urban transit agencies, given that they are the most transit
dependent communities and negotiate their daily lives on mass transit.[1]

The Equal Opportunity Assessment Amendment would also promote
interagency cooperation around the analysis of data on equal opportunity, by requiring
that the Secretary of Transportation consult with the Secretary of Labor in
assessing equity in employment and contracting opportunities related to
federally-funded transportation programs. 
The collected data would include an analysis of impediments to non-discrimination
and recommendations for compliance. Currently, women and minorities are
underrepresented in transportation construction employment.  Of the roughly eight million people
employed in the transportation construction industry in 2008, African Americans
comprised only 6 percent and women comprised less than 3 percent.[2]
Latinos are disproportionately employed in lower-paying transportation sector
jobs and are concentrated in fewer occupations.[3]

The Comptroller General’s Evaluation
and Report Amendment would require the Comptroller General to issue a new
report assessing the ability of the FTA to address discrimination complaints and
foster equal opportunities in
federally-funded transportation projects and provide recommendations for
improvements. With public transportation
ridership at record highs, many transit agencies facing fiscal crises have cut
service, and raised fares.[4]
It is critical to
examine whether these decisions regarding
basic transit service are made at the unlawful expense of the most underserved
communities.  Effective and fair
transportation projects, by providing access to employment, health care, and
educational centers, are essential to the well-being of transit-dependent

urge you to vote for Representative Richardson’s amendments to H.R. 7.  If you have any questions, feel free to
contact Lexer Quamie, Counsel at (202) 466-3648 or [email protected]
or Nancy Zirkin at (202) 466-3311 or [email protected].
Thank you for your consideration.




Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President

[1] Racial minorities are four times more
likely than Whites to rely on public transportation for their work commute.
Clara Reschovsky, “Journey to Work: 2000,” Census 2000 brief. Washington, D.C.:
U.S. Census, Bureau, 2004 at

[2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,
“Household Data Annual Averages, Table 11: Employed Persons by Detailed
Occupation, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin,” 2008.

[3] Singley,
Catherine. National Council of La Raza – Steering Economic Recovery: Latinos in
the Transportation Sector,
. April 1, 2011.

[4] 84 percent of public transit systems have
raised fares, cut service or are considering either of those actions. American
Public Transportation Association, “Impact of the Recession on Public
Transportation Agencies,” March 2010.