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In an Increasingly Diverse House, Aides Remain Remarkably White

Category: Political News,Politics

Democratic offices employ more minorities overall in senior staff positions, in large part because members of the Congressional Black Caucus tend to hire nonwhite staff members at a much higher rate than any other group. There are only two black Republicans in the House, Representatives Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas. There are 43 House Democrats who have a floor vote and are black, as well as two nonvoting black Democrats.

Nearly a quarter of top Democratic staff members are people of color, compared with less than 5 percent of Republican staff.

But when the offices of nonwhite lawmakers are removed from consideration, the diversity of the staffs working for white Republicans and white Democrats is similar. Researchers counted 329 white lawmakers and found that only 16 — six Democratic and 10 Republican — had offices led by a nonwhite chief of staff.

“It seems that the American public is more likely to elect a person of color to the House than House members are to hire a top staffer of color,” Mr. Overton said.

There are notable exceptions. Jonathan Burks, the chief of staff to Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, is black. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, employs a black communications director, and Representative James E. Clyburn, the assistant Democratic leader, who is black, employs a top staffer who is black. The Republican staff director for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of the most powerful in Congress, is a black woman.

Senior officials from both parties argue that the study’s definition of “top staff” was arbitrary, excluding other nonwhite senior-level aides from the statistics despite their influential roles in shaping and communicating policy in Washington and in district offices around the country. Ms. Pelosi’s office, for example, provided detailed statistics showing that 35 percent of all staff members in her leadership office and 56 percent in her personal office were nonwhite.

“Leader Pelosi has always believed in the importance of leading by example,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for the California Democrat.


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