A Hill That Looks Slightly More Like America.

Word comes from Speaker Pelosi's office that she and Committee on House Administration chair Robert Brady are launching a program to drive up diversity on the Hill, so that someone watching C-SPAN hearings at home doesn't always see such a sea of monochromatic see of faces up on the dais. Harry Reid started something similar on the Senate side a few years back. And while statistics mustn't be kept on the sacred black box that is the Senate, reporting suggests that it's working.

Pushing for a House run by people who look more like America is something powerful that Pelosi can do from her speaker's perch. But she's speaker of the House, not Supreme Dictator of it. She can't order the 400+ offices that make up the House to hire this way or that, but she can make institutional changes that up the odds that committee staffs and member offices will diversify their staffs. (Pelosi and Brady are taking a more hands-on approach with offices directly under the Democratic leadership's purview, ordering offices like the Office of the Clerk to report to her on the makeup of their work force.) The project, which a Hill source says is in its very early stages, kicks off with a job bank and diversity training sessions for those with hiring authority.

The focus here is on Asian, Hispanic, and black staffers. That's a start, but it would be nice to see the Hill get a little more LGBT with it, too. The House is, in many ways, a feeder. House staffers trickle out to the Senate, the White House, and the federal agencies. If they must head to K Street, at least they should be a more diverse cabal of lobbyists.

On another note. There are echoes in Pelosi's nascent diversity push of what Obama did last night with throwing the White House behind LGBT visitation rights. It's nice to see progressives in positions of power starting to wake up to the fact that there are a range of ways available to them to be the change they want to see.

--Nancy Scola

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