Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will on Tuesday ask his caucus to adopt extensive new rules to promote staff diversity, including a version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” which will require Senate offices to interview at least one minority applicant for senior staff openings in the future.
The diversity measures are part of a wider package of caucus rules that Schumer will put forward on Tuesday. The Democratic leader has also vowed to publish official diversity statistics from Senate offices on the website of the Senate Diversity Initiative, which hosts a resume bank for potential Senate staffers of color and will be the subject of beefed-up efforts to work with every individual Democratic Senate office on diverse hiring practices.
The efforts follow intense criticism from interest groups and minority staffers regarding the paltry share of non-white Senate Democratic staff. Several studies, including a 2015 report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, have exposed a severe demographic disconnect between the party’s policymakers in Washington and its core constituencies in the states.
The report found that just 7 percent of top Senate staffers (counting chiefs of staff, legislative directors, communications directors, and committee staff directors) were people of color. It also noted that while African-Americans provided nearly one-quarter of the Democratic Party’s votes, only one top Senate Democratic staffer was black.
“We must ensure the Senate be more reflective of our country’s diverse population,” Schumer said in a statement. “Expanding the diversity initiative, following the Rooney rule and dedicating ourselves to increasing diversity are important steps we can take to help achieve that goal and better serve our country.”
Schumer has already announced the new initiatives to several interested parties, including a group of minority lobbyists that had been working to improve diversity in the Senate and at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where the group met with Schumer two weeks ago. Schumer also publicized the effort earlier this month at a gathering of the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.
Schumer’s office is still working with Senate legal advisers to figure out exactly how to survey office diversity and post results, but promoters of the new measures see the official statistics as a centerpiece of the plan.
I'm all for this, and Senate Dems deservedly got hell for this. Shaun King pointed this out months ago and he gets no small amount of credit for forcing Schumer and the Dems to practice what they preach on diversity.
It was unacceptable going forward, and I'm very glad to see Schumer make good on this. Good job, Democrats.