The next Senate Minority Leader is backing a measure to establish a permanent office focused on boosting staff diversity in the next Congress.
New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer supports a resolution that the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus recommended to Senate offices last month. It would establish a nonpartisan office to assist in developing and implementing plans to diversify the ranks of Senate aides.
The office would also focus on collecting data on staff diversity. Currently no entity is tasked with doing so, a factor that is blocking solutions, according to some staffers.
A Dec. 2015 Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies report found racial disparities among senior Senate staff. Of 336 top Senate staffers, the report found 24 aides of color. Twelve were Asian-American, seven were Latino, three were African-American and two were Native-American. The disparities among senior staff are prevalent on both sides of the aisle.
"Having the support and leadership of Senator Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader, is an important first step toward making the Senate more representative of the diverse communities we serve," said Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus president Don Bell. "We look forward to working with Senator Schumer and others in a bipartisan manner in the 115th Congress."
Bell said the caucus believes there is "growing bipartisan support" for the SBLSC and other staff associations' recommendations.
While Schumer’s support is noteworthy, it is not clear if the resolution will be taken up on the Senate floor. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for the Kentucky Republican’s position on the resolution.
But in the meantime, Schumer plans to continue a diversity initiative created by departing Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Schumer’s office will also fostor a separate diversity effort led by Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
“Adding a nonpartisan diversity office to our ongoing diversity initiative would be a huge boost to make the Senate all it can be,” Schumer said.
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