Wednesday, February 28, 2024

GOP Less Likely to Hire Hispanic Staffers

Hispanics are least likely to be found working in Republican offices on Capitol Hill and their numbers may dwindle even further among congressional staff with the incoming GOP-controlled House, according to a new report that surveyed the makeup of staffers.

An analysis of the staff makeup of all 435 House offices in the 111th Congress by University of Texas at San Antonio professor Walter Wilson found that found that conservative House members were less likely to hire Latinos.

“The initial research shows that if we had two representatives who are identical in all respects but one was more conservative than the other, we’d expect the conservative to have a much less diverse office and a smaller percentage of staff that’s Latino,” Wilson told POLITICO, a Capitol Hill newspaper. “One thing you can safely say is that the outlook for Latino staffers on the Hill will not improve unless members of the GOP adopt some pretty aggressive efforts to recruit Latino staffers. New opportunities will likely not be opening up in the 112th Congress, and in some cases, opportunities may have already disappeared with the outgoing Democrats.”

Not surprisingly, Wilson also found that liberal members had a significantly larger percentage of Latinos working on their staffs.  In total, only 7 percent of congressional staff is Hispanic.

An initiative to diversify staffers on the Hill and recruit Hispanics was begun by outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but the incoming speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), has yet to signal if he will continue the program or start his own.

“There are still so many unanswered questions,” said Gloria Montano Greene, former chief of staff to Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and now Washington Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials education fund. “Pelosi’s implementations have laid some good groundwork that hopefully will be continued, but we still don’t know if those programs are in danger.”

The Congressional Hispanic Staff Association (CHSA), in a separate study, also found the number of Hispanic aides to be very low, and they’re almost nil in key positions like chief of staff and legislative director.  In the House, only 12 chief of staff jobs and nine legislative director positions out of about 440 are held by Hispanics, according to the CHSA study.

“I’d like to offer the caucus to Speaker-to-be Boehner as a resource should he be inclined to continue Speaker Pelosi’s initiative. I want to make that offer right off the bat so that maybe we can start the discussion,” Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), the newly-elected leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said. “I think we can make the case of why it’s so important to continue this effort. I don’t know if this should be a big debate with the new speaker. It really should be a topic of interest to everyone. The numbers clearly call for more diversity on the Hill.”



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