WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department is moving ahead with a formal racial equity review of the agency and its programs, putting in place an effort to ensure that economic fairness is prioritized throughout the Biden administration as it begins to disburse $1.9 trillion in relief money.
The initiative is expected to be led by Adewale Adeyemo once he is confirmed as deputy Treasury secretary, according to people familiar with the matter. It will be undertaken in close collaboration with Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, who is making racial equity a centerpiece of her agenda as she oversees the disbursement of much of the stimulus package.
The review follows an executive order that President Biden signed in January requiring federal agencies to pursue racial equity and to support underserved communities in their policies and programming. The order was a sharp departure from the policies of President Donald J. Trump, who issued an executive order last year banning the “malign ideology” of racial sensitivity training across the government.
Treasury is developing its own civil rights strategy and, as part of that, is working to ensure that financial assistance distributed through the latest relief legislation is allocated fairly. The White House noted in January that previous rounds of stimulus checks were sometimes slow to arrive to people of color. And minority business owners who did not have close ties to banks often had difficulty gaining access to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.
Mr. Adeyemo’s nomination. If confirmed, he would be the nation’s first Black deputy Treasury secretary. At his confirmation hearing last month, he spoke about how the coronavirus pandemic was worsening inequality in the United States.
“Until we contain the pandemic, economic policy must remain focused on providing relief to those harmed by the public health crisis, especially those disproportionately impacted: low-income communities and communities of color,” Mr. Adeyemo said.
A Treasury official said it was premature to say what Mr. Adeyemo’s role will be since he has yet to be sworn into office, but he is expected to work closely with Ms. Yellen on racial equity issues if he is confirmed.
The plan for Mr. Adeyemo to lead the initiative has been discussed in internal Treasury meetings, according to a person familiar with the matter.
All federal agencies are required to submit diversity and inclusion plans to the Office of Management and Budget this month, under the terms of the executive order.
stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more.