U.S. Senate Retains Affirmative Action Transportation Contracts
The U.S. Senate voted 58 to 37 against a proposal that would have eliminated the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program from a bill authorizing transportation projects for the next six years. The DBE requires that at least 10 percent of highway construction contracts be awarded to companies owned by women and minorities. Since the inception of the program in the 1970’s contracts awarded to women and minorities have increased from 2 to 15 percent, according to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
The proposal to drop the program was sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who stated that the program was “unfair, unconstitutional, and just plain un-American.”
Supporters of the program claim that it is constitutional and essential to eliminating discrimination in the construction industry. Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said McConnell’s proposal was a “clear demonstration” of why the Republican party has difficulty attracting women and minorities.