California Democrat Rep. Cárdenas calls for more diversity in congressional staffing

"How can we expect to address issues of racial discrimination when the vast majority of our staff working on these issues cannot speak directly to the experiences of racial injustice?" Cárdenas asked.

Updated: July 6, 2020 - 6:24pm

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Representative Tony Cárdenas on Monday sent a letter to fellow Democrats calling out a lack of diversity among House staffers.

"As we work to dismantle systemic racism throughout the United States, it is time for us to be bold, break our habits, and correct our flaws as a legislative body and a caucus," Cárdenas wrote in the letter. "We must face our glaring failure as a Congress. Building a truly diverse House of Representatives is our responsibility, and, as leaders, we must do it now," he said.

The California Democrat, who also is an advocate for developing a Latino Museum, provided statistics from the Joint Center of Political and Economic Studies, an organization that describes itself on Twitter as "America's Black think tank."

"The Joint Center of Political and Economic Studies found that more than eight out of 10 chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in the 115th Congress were white. In 2018, 84% of chiefs, 88% of legislative directors, and 87% of communications directors were white. Of the 1,110 senior staff positions, only 152 were people of color. The data is clear: people of color are not being promoted or hired for senior staff positions. This is not for a lack of diverse candidates who are dedicated and qualified," Cárdenas wrote in the letter. 

The statistics referenced in the letter appear to come from the organization's September 2018 report, "Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff." The report noted that 88.3% of legislative directors and 86.9% of communications directors were white.

"How can we expect to address issues of racial discrimination when the vast majority of our staff working on these issues cannot speak directly to the experiences of racial injustice?" Cárdenas asked.

The congressman suggested developing "a Members task force with one sole mission: ensuring more equitable hiring practices and staff diversity. This task force will identify best practices in all aspects of staff recruitment, hiring, retention and promotions. Every Member will be provided with every opportunity to build diversity in every team in the House."

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