New regs for Wednesday: USDA bolsters anti-discrimination rules

Government agencies will publish 177 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register.

Highlights include:

DISCRIMINATION PROTECTIONS: The Department of Agriculture is moving to strengthen regulations designed to ensure its programs don’t discriminate against certain segments of the population.

A final rule effective Wednesday requires each branch of the massive USDA to collect and compile data on the race, ethnicity and gender for all applicants and participants of the programs they administer as a safeguard against civil rights violations.

Applicants and program participants will provide the race, ethnicity and gender data on a voluntary basis.

The action, which follows years of complaints of discrimination at the agency, also expands current regulations to protect against discrimination based on political beliefs or gender identity.

“Gender identity includes USDA program customers’ gender expression, including how USDA program customers act, dress, perceive themselves, or otherwise express their gender,” the agency wrote.

IMMIGRATION: The Department of Homeland Security and its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is soliciting comment on forms used by immigrants seeking permission to reapply for admission into the United States after they are deported or otherwise removed.

WAR ON TERROR: The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is moving to freeze the U.S. assets and block future financial transactions involving five individuals and seven businesses and other entities linked to terrorism.

The action stems from an executive order issued by then President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, allowing the government to block property and prohibit transactions of “persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support

HOUSING: The Department of Housing and Urban Development is repealing regulations under the HOPE for Homeowners Program. The program sunset three years ago, making the regulations moot, according to a final rule issued by the agency.

“Loans made under the HOPE for Homeowners Program that are presently insured will continue to be governed by the regulations that existed immediately before the effective date of this final rule,” the agency clarified.

FEDERAL PURCHASING: The Department of Education is updating its acquisitions policies, according to a notice of proposed rule-making to be published by the agency. Wednesday starts the clock on a 60-day comment period.