by Ray Hayes

The executive branch of the United States government is mandated to release data on the racial and ethnic makeup of its staff members for public records, however congressional offices are not required to do the same. This is quite ironic as in most cases, when one branch is required to do something usually the others are required to do the same. Kendra Hendrix, director of the Democrats’ House Diversity Initiative, recently pointed to this contradiction, stating “I don’t want to call it less structured, but in every federal office, even at a huge agency, they all have the same standard operating procedures. That is not at all here,” she said.

Although the rule is not mandated, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin indicated that they do collect data on the makeup of Senate Democratic staff members and that the data will be released this summer. Republican leaders have not stated whether or not they do the same. House GOP member Rachel Barkley, director of outreach, did explain that the party “…works with groups such as the Hispanic Leadership Fund and Log Cabin Republicans, among others, to bring in diverse staffers.

Olivia Hnat, the conference’s national press secretary, said “Her goal is to make sure every perspective is at the table and offering their voices to the debates on Capitol Hill,”. Barkley is not the only GOP member trying to further diversity among staffers, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado constructed an internship program that seeks to enhance diversity within the GOP for African-American Republicans.

Last year for the first time in the Senate History, the Democrats released the demographic information of Senate staffers. As the talks increase to release congressional staff racial and ethnic makeup, Congressional members in both parties will be pressured to provide the information to the general public. Therefore, we can consider both parties in particular Democrats efforts somewhat of a breakthrough.

Once the Democratic members in the Senate release their data this summer we will be sure to share the information.

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