Joint Center Praises Leader Schumer on Staff Diversity Rules

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Roll Call published the text of diversity rules adopted by the U.S. Senate Democratic Conference last Tuesday. According to Roll Call, the rule reads as follows: “to the extent practicable, [Democratic] offices shall: (1) engage with the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative to identify qualified candidates for vacancies; (2) engage with congressional staff associations and outside stakeholder groups that represent diversity to solicit résumés; and (3) interview diverse applicants for all vacancies.”

The following is a statement by Spencer Overton, the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “The Joint Center commends Leader Schumer for his leadership in this significant step to help diversify Democratic staff. Currently, only one of the top 336 Senate staffers is an African American Democrat, and there are no Black or Latino staff directors of full committees–Democrat or Republican. Leader Schumer has stepped up and committed to expanding the pool of diverse candidates in the interview process for his personal office, continued the Senate Diversity Initiative, and advocated for the adoption of these new conference rules. The Joint Center looks forward to working with the Democratic and Republican Senate and House offices to identify strong candidates of color for vacancies. While these new rules are critical steps in the right direction and we agree that Senate staff should reflect the full diversity of the United States, ‘to the extent practicable’ and ‘diverse applicants’ are broad terms. We hope that in practice, Democratic Senators actually interview candidates of color for each opening. We also hope that Democratic Senators recognize the critical role the Senate Diversity Initiative, Congressional staff associations, and organizations like the Joint Center can play in providing the tools and support necessary to increase diversity in hiring. In addition, we hope Senators recognize the importance of collecting sufficient data to assess whether these rules are effective and result in increased diversity over time.” The Joint Center will release a report on diversity among top House staff in 2017, and is also working on the next edition of its report on diversity among top Senate staff.

Key Resources

Click here to view a fact sheet on Senate staff diversity. Click here to read our 2015 report, Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff.