Hill Diversity


The Joint Center to Congressional Leaders: Make Staff Diversity a Factor in Committee Assignments and Leadership


December 10, 2018
Contact: press@jointcenter.org

The Joint Center to Congressional Leaders:
Make Staff Diversity a Factor in Committee Assignments and Leadership

WASHINGTON – Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies sent letters to 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.

“Congressional leaders have an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of staff diversity in the next Congress by nominating and assigning Members to lead and serve on committees based on the composition of their staffs,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton.

“Why should congressional leaders nominate or assign a Member to serve on an important committee if the Member will not have the insights of a legislative director, counsel, and legislative assistants who reflect the diversity of the nation or the Member’s constituents?” asked Overton. “Taking this action now—when many Members are hiring new staff—will help change the face of congressional staff, transform committee staffs in both chambers, and set a much-needed standard for all Members to follow.”

“In order for Congress to truly reflect the makeup of America, Members of both chambers must be committed to taking bold action that reforms the institution. Assessing staff diversity in committee decision-making is one such action,” said Joint Center Black Talent Initiative Director Don Bell.

The Joint Center sent letters to the following congressional leaders (click on links to read full letters):

House Democrats: Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader-Designate Steny H. Hoyer, Majority Whip-Designate James E. Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader-Designate Ben Ray Luján, Democratic Caucus Chair-Designate Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Caucus Vice Chair-Designate Katherine M. Clark, and Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Co-Chairs-Designate Rosa DeLauro, Eric Swalwell, and Barbara Lee.

House Republicans: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Conference Chair-Designate Liz Cheney, Republican Conference Vice Chair-Designate Mark Walker, Republican Conference Policy Committee Chair-Designate Gary Palmer, Republican Conference Secretary Jason Smith, and National Republican Coordinating Committee Chair-Designate Tom Emmer.

Senate Democrats: Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee Chair-Designate Amy Klobuchar, and Democratic Conference Vice Chairs-Designate Mark Warner and Elizabeth Warren.

Senate Republicans: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican Conference Chair-Designate John Barrasso, and Republican Policy Chair-Designate Roy Blunt.

The letters are part of a series the Joint Center has sent to Congress calling for more top staff diversity.

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.

Earlier Joint Center reports found that although people of color made up 38 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for only 13.7 percent of House top staff and only 7.1 percent of Senate top staff.