“This initiative was developed with bipartisan input,” Rep. Mike Honda said in a statement Friday. The California Democrat is the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “It is now time for the GOP transition team to step it up and continue the work of the initiative in the 112th.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the only Native American Member of Congress, said the diversity initiative is not an issue being discussed in the transition team working group, on which he serves as co-chairman.
But a spokeswoman for House Administration Chairman-designate Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said her boss plans to work with leadership, Brady and the Congressional Tri-Caucus to “determine appropriate steps moving forward.”
“Although we don’t know exactly what the program will look like in the 112th Congress, Mr. Lungren believes that it is the responsibility of this committee to provide the necessary information and resources to assist House offices with their staffing decisions,” Lungren spokeswoman Salley Wood said.
Incoming Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emmanuel Cleaver said an initiative can only go so far.
“The only thing that can be done is a commitment from individual Members,” the Missouri Democrat said in an interview Friday. “No Speaker, such as Nancy Pelosi, or anybody else for that matter, interested in creating and maintaining diversity, can do so in Congress ... because she can’t override Members who do the hiring for their offices.”
Cleaver said he met last night with a “brain trust” of “black intelligentsia” to try to discuss ways to foster greater diversity on the Hill. Though nothing has been finalized, he said one proposal discussed is acknowledging Members who hire diverse staffs, perhaps with an award.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.