5/16/2024 in News & Media, Press Releases, Responsible AI/Tech Equity

Congress Must Take Broader, Swift Action to Protect People and Communities Against AI Harms

May 16, 2024
Contact: Janelle Brevard | jbrevard@nationalfairhousing.org

Congress Must Take Broader, Swift Action to Protect People and Communities Against AI Harms

Washington, D.C. — Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance® (NFHA™), issued the following statement in response to the Senate AI Working Group’s report, A Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence Policy in the United States, released yesterday by a bipartisan group of senators:

“We applaud Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) for taking an important first step to address the rapidly evolving AI landscape. We need this type of bipartisan collaboration to put in place proper guardrails for technologies that impact every aspect of our lives including determining whether we can secure housing, access credit, be gainfully employed, or get medical treatment.

“As I shared in my testimony last year during the Senate AI Insight Forum on High Impact AI, automated systems hold significant risks, including bias and discrimination risks, which can severely harm people. The risks are not insurmountable if the proper controls are put in place. We are pleased the roadmap acknowledges AI bias is real and notes that existing civil rights and consumer protection laws can apply to automated decision-making systems and processes.  

“However, the roadmap kicks the can down the road leaving the public waiting for specific legislation to take on a host of AI-related challenges. The plan focuses heavily on enhancing national competitiveness and spurring market innovation, yet there is a conspicuous absence in prioritizing the adoption of responsible AI principles, particularly those aimed at fostering fairness and trustworthiness in AI systems. Furthermore, the report lacks specific recommendations to guide Congress in crafting legislation to tackle a plethora of civil and human rights issues arising from the growing use of AI. Glaring omissions include detailed provisions for eliminating bias in AI systems used in credit, employment, health, education, policing, and criminal justice.  

“While increasing funding for AI innovation is important, it is equally imperative that Congress adequately fund efforts to promote fairness, explainability, transparency, accuracy, and trustworthiness in AI systems. Congress must also provide sufficient funding to ensure compliance with civil rights and consumer protection laws. This is crucial since studies show unethical and biased tech harms people and communities and stifles the nation’s economic progress.

“NFHA has long been at the forefront of working to create a fairer AI landscape. Through our Responsible AI Lab, we work to advance policy, technical, and other solutions to debias existing technologies; increase transparency and explainability for AI tools; outline ethical standards for responsible technologies; develop effective regulation; ensure AI systems have humans in the loop; and increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the tech field.

“We urge Congress to move quickly and look forward to working with Congressional leaders to draft legislation which incorporates recommendations developed by NFHA and other civil rights groups to mitigate existing and emerging AI challenges. Doing so will ensure we do not further entrench bias within our systems and negatively impact individuals and communities while stifling the nation’s economic progress.”


The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.