The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is applauding Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s letter to her Democratic House colleagues emphasizing the importance of staff diversity in the 116th Congress. Pelosi’s letter elevates recommendations that the Joint Center included in its September report on racial diversity among top staff in the U.S. House.
“Leader Pelosi deserves credit for laying down an early marker on the need to take action to increase top staff diversity in Congress,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “This is a good start, and we look forward to continuing to work with Leader Pelosi to diversify congressional top staff.”
In the letter, Leader Pelosi encouraged Members and Committees to hire diverse staff. She also announced her hope that the Democratic Caucus would formally adopt the Rooney Rule, which requires interviewing at least one person of color for every top staff position opening, such as chief of staff, legislative director, communications director, and committee staff director. She also acknowledged Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern’s proposal for a permanent House Diversity Initiative as part of the Rules package on opening day.
“The incoming majority of the U.S. House of Representatives will be the most diverse in our nation’s history,” said Don Bell, Director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center. “Leader Pelosi’s letter is a good beginning toward the work ahead to ensure that the senior and mid-level staff of the U.S. House reflect the diversity of America.”
The Joint Center published a report in September 2018 that found that although people of color account for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 13.7 percent of the top staffers of the U.S. House of Representatives (161 out of 1174 top staffers).