Congress on Wednesday voted to expand federal affirmative action privileges to new groups and classes of citizens. President Obama applauded the legislation as a “bold step forward on the path to equality” and has pledged to sign it into law.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the bill, ambitiously named the Endeavor to Make Equality the Hallmark of Civil Society. EMEHCS will apply to college and university admissions programs as well as federal contracting and hiring practices.
The law will allow prisoners and part-time fast-food workers, among others, to reap affirmative action benefits. Several different plant species and anyone born in Antarctica are covered as well.
EMEHCS also makes provisions to expand affirmative action to elementary and secondary education.
“All students who fall under this legislation will automatically receive straight A’s in every grade, as well as full scholarships to any college they desire,” explained Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who sponsored the EMEHCS bill. “Once students get to college, they will also receive $2500 in spending money and any automobile they choose under $30,000.”
The provisions for spending money and an automobile were two controversial aspects of the bill.
“We wanted $10,000 spending money, adjustable to inflation, and any automobile up to $75,000 dollars, with free gas for life,” said Rep. David Zeckwelder, D-N.J. Conservative Republicans ultimately forced a compromise.
EMEHCS also makes changes in federal election law. A new political party, created solely for affirmative action beneficiaries, is designed to give traditionally disadvantaged groups more representation in government and access to political power.
Those covered by the law may apply to be selected as candidates representing the Politically Oppressed Opportunity Party. Using POOP, the candidates can campaign for federal offices, with one candidate per race.
A nine-member committee will decide who gets to be the candidate in each race, based on which applicant is the most socially oppressed. The nominee will then receive $3 million in campaign funds and an automatic 20% of the popular vote in the election.
“This will level the playing field in our elections,” Zeckwelder said.
Any contracting company owned by a member of the designated classes will automatically receive a permanent contract to do all federal work, regardless of price. This applies, for example, to construction work or maintenance of government-owned buildings. In the event of competing oppressed people, the most oppressed will be awarded the contract.
The contract can never be revoked, even if the work runs over budget or fails to meet minimal quality or safety standards.
As a final element of the EMEHCS legislation, beneficiaries receive taxpayer-financed soft drinks and lifetime memberships to any country club of their choosing. Country club owners argue this provision violates property rights, but Bayh points out that diversity is the top priority.
“As residents of segregated communities and gated neighborhoods, we in the U.S. Senate understand the importance of living with people who are different from you,” Bayh said. “That’s why we want all Americans to have the opportunity we ourselves have stayed away from.”