It’s politics as usual as a recent Diversity Initiative of the Senate Democratic Conference report revealed that the “Senate committees with the whitest Democratic staffs are also some of the chamber’s most powerful.” According to Roll Call analysis, 5 percent, 6 percent and 13 percent of the Appropriations, Finance and Armed Services panels are under represented minorities. The Senate Agriculture Committee reported the worst with zero nonwhite Democratic staffers.
Despite the low figure, it appears the Senate Appropriations’ Democratic staff actually made improvements versus last year when the panel “was the least diverse, at 5 percent nonwhite.” Agriculture and Banking were also near the bottom last year as well. “Democrats on the Banking Committee have improved their diversity numbers since last year — moving from 92 percent white staffers to 83 percent.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Democrat panels with the highest levels of diversity include Indian Affairs, which is entirely nonwhite, the Joint Economic Committee, which is half white and the Senate Aging Committee.
The Democrat breakdown for women is much better with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Rules and Administration Committee ” tied for the highest proportion of women, who make up 67 percent of their Democratic staffs. Both panels have female ranking Democrats — Washington Sen. Patty Murray on HELP and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Rules.”
The committees with the lowest number of women include the Energy and Natural Resources Committee with 29 percent. This is a significant drop “from last year, when women made up 64 percent of Democratic staffers.”
Republicans have been mum on their diversity statistics as their committees at large have chosen not to publish similar statistics.
The release of such data by the Senate Democrats is considered a breakthrough in Congress because there is no rule requiring offices to provide information on the racial and ethnic makeup of their staffs for the public record.