The time to increase Hill diversity is now: The incoming 116th Congress will provide hundreds of job openings and an opportunity to dramatically increase staff diversity on the Hill. There will be 100 new Members who must fully staff their offices, and Democratic Ranking Members of committees will double their staff sizes as they become Chairs. Below find some of our efforts to seize this moment and diversify congressional staff.
On December 14, the Joint Center released an interactive tool to track newly-hired top staff by new and returning Members of the 116th Congress.
The Joint Center sent a series of letters to Congress calling for more top staff diversity. On December 10, the Joint Center sent lettersto incoming leaders of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives requesting that the diversity of a Member’s top staff be a factor in nominating Chairs and Ranking Members of committees and in approving Members to serve on committees. On December 3, the Joint Center and 66 other national organizations and diversity stakeholders sent a letter to new and returning Members of the 116th Congress calling for diversity. On November 9, the Joint Center sent letters to 22 House committee Ranking Members encouraging them to hire diverse candidates in anticipation of becoming committee Chairs and doubling the size of their committee staff. On November 8, the Joint Center sent a letter to Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi with ideas for implementing more staff diversity throughout the House.
The letters follow eight reports released by the Joint Center on congressional staff diversity. In November 2018, the Joint Center released Racial Diversity Among Top Staff of Congressional Delegations of Six States, detailed reports on the troubling lack of racial diversity among the 167 top staff in the Washington, DC offices of six congressional delegations – Delaware, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia.
It followed our September 2018 report, Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff, and our 2015 report, Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, that examines racial diversity among top staff in Washington, DC offices of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, respectively.
The Joint Center has continued to push for increased diversity on Capitol Hill and in Federal Agencies. See below for recent accomplishments and resources.
Diversity Among Top Congressional Staff: Building on our 31-page report on Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, in 2016 the Joint Center produced this2-minute videoon congressional staff diversity and made several presentations to talk about the issue to U.S. Senators, to congressional staff, and to the media.
After the 2016 election, we organized 52 Black, Latino, AAPI, and American Indian organizations and sentthis letterasking six new U.S. Senators to recruit diverse staffs. We also organized outreach to over 70 civil rights organizations and media outlets in six states with newly elected U.S. Senators educating them about the lack of diversity among top staff, and createdthis fact sheeton the issue.
Following our efforts and those of our partner organizations, House Speaker Paul Ryan hired the first Black Chief of Staff in the Speaker’s office, Senator Kamala Harris & Senator Thom Tillis hired the Senate’s first Black legislative directors, Senator Dianne Feinstein hired a Latino Chief of Staff, Senator Jerry Moran hired a Black Chief of Staff, Senator Martin Heinrich hired a Latino Legislative Director, and Senator Cortez Masto hired a Latino Communications Director. The number of Black top staff in Senate offices increased by 100 percent, and incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer announced plans to continue and expand the staff of the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative.
In 2017, the Senate Democratic Conference formally adopted a version of the Rooney Rule. The House Democratic Caucus announced plans to implement a diversity officeand established such an office in late 2017.
Black Talent Initiative: Starting in June 2016, the Joint Center convened 36 African-American organizations (e.g., NAACP, National Urban League, INSIGHT America, National Action Network, and more) and over 250 policy and communications experts to work on transition policy and appointments issues. This effort transitioned into the
Black Talent Initiative (housed at and staffed by the Joint Center), which identifies and counsels top African American talent for congressional staff positions. Recently, this work has expanded to include report writing and direct advocacy for institutional changes that would increase diversity and inclusion.