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7 Senate Democrats report half their staff is 'non-Caucasian'

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a former presidential candidate, reported having the most racially and ethnically diverse staff, at 65 percent.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in Los Angeles on Oct. 10, 2019.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in Los Angeles, on Oct. 10, 2019.Mike Blake / Reuters file

Seven Democratic senators reported having 50 percent or more staff members who identify as "non-Caucasian," one more senator than in 2019, according to data released Wednesday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who is Black, reported the most racially and ethnically diverse staff, at 65 percent, up from the 61 percent in 2019. Around 24 percent of his staff is Latino and 33 percent is Black, according to the data. Booker ran for president in 2020, ending his campaign in January.

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii had the second-most diverse staff, reporting 64 percent of his staff is non-Caucasian, down from 69 percent in 2019. Around 45 percent of his staff identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, and 19 percent Native American.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, another Black former presidential candidate, also reported a decline in staff diversity from 70 percent in 2019 to 61 percent in 2020. Among her staff, 28 percent identified as Latino and 26 percent as Black.

“As our country confronts some of the most difficult and unique challenges in recent decades, the need for Congress to present a diversity of ideas and solutions has never been clearer,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in an email.

Schumer reported a 45 percent non-Caucasian staff, with 13 percent identifying as Latino, 13 percent as Black, and 14 percent Asian or Pacific Islander.

“Senate Democrats know that when our staff reflects the range of perspectives and experiences of the people we represent, we can better serve American families and keep our democracy strong," he said. "Our differences when it comes to race, gender identity, geographic location, ability and more should be celebrated and keep us striving toward ensuring the most diverse congressional staff possible."

The survey uses percentages to highlight growing diversity among Senate staff members and not raw numbers, making it difficult to make direct comparisons among the Senate staffs. The report includes breakdowns by gender and percentage of staff that identifies as LGBTQ.

Sen. Martin Heinrich from New Mexico reported the largest share of staff that is Latino, with 47 percent. He reported no Black staff members.

For Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who is Latino, 30 percent of his staff identified as Latino and 14 percent as Black.

Some of the numbers reflect the diversity of each senator’s home state.

The diversity of staff members has received greater scrutiny amid the Black Lives Matter movement and as Democrats represent increasingly diverse constituencies. Research has shown that diverse staffs tend to be more attentive to minority issues even when there is less national attention drawn to their concerns.

This is the fourth year Senate Democrats have published the data. Senate Republicans do not release such data.

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