Eye Opener: House establishes diversity task force
Happy Wednesday! Following a recent study that found a serious lack of minorities on Capitol Hill, House Democratic and Republican leaders plan to tackle rank and file concerns with a series of moves.
On Tuesday leaders established a diversity task force that will sponsor training courses, build a resume bank of potential job candidates and publish regular reports on diversity efforts.
The decision comes on the heels of a February report by minority Congressional staff associations that found Latinos are rarely found on Capitol Hill payrolls. In the Senate there is just one Latino chief of staff and one committee staff director, while just 5.6 percent of House staffers are Latino.
The Committee on House Administration will lead the new efforts along with the House Chiefs of Staff Association and the Congressional Asian Pacific, Black and Hispanic caucuses, collectively known as the House Tri-Caucus. Leaders of the Tri-Caucus called Tuesday's announcement an "important first step."
"Diversity is one of America's fundamental strengths and all of our nation's communities are a rich source of exceptional talent,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Drawing from this diverse pool of talent will ensure that the House of Representatives benefits from new and innovative solutions to our complex national challenges."
The February report, "Unrepresented: A Blueprint for Solving the Diversity Crisis on Capitol Hill," recommended House and Senate leaders establish diversity task forces and consider adopting something similar to the National Football League's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority for head coaching positions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has also called for a Rooney Rule on the Senate side as part of his efforts to increase diversity. Reid's efforts, launched in 2007 for Senate Democrats, have resulted in more minority hires.
But are task forces enough? What's an acceptable level of diversity on Capitol Hill -- or any office for that matter? Should Congress have a Rooney Rule? The comments section awaits your thoughts.
• Question of the Week: When was the last time a supervisor or colleague complimented you on your work? When was the last time you told a colleague or supervisor he had executed an assignment well? Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name, home town, the federal agency for which you work and we may include your answers in Friday's Washington Post.
• Labor Dept. Official Dies: James L. DeMarce, 71, director of the department's Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation, died Tuesday after 25 years with the office. “Jim has been the face and soul of the department’s black lung benefits program for everyone from union officials and mine workers, to members of the coal industry, to state workers’ compensation officials, to congressional staffers and to every Labor Department staff person who contributed to making this program work," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement . "All of them relied upon Jim’s encyclopedic knowledge of every aspect of the program, his rock-solid judgment and his unflagging support for coal miners facing black lung, a terrible, man-made illness."
• Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama's restricted access soars to new heights at Nuclear Security Summit (watch a time lapse of his photo ops here). On her way to Mexico, First Lady Michelle Obama visits Haiti earthquake victims. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds an "intense" 90-minute with the Egyptian foreign minister. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner seems to have won over Steven Pearlstein. House and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan says the administration's housing efforts are paying off. (And we're surprised by his statement?) FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will tell a Senate committee today that FCC plans to push forward on its national broadband plan. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry swears and talks child molesters in a Tuesday speech. Al Kamen's jampacked column reports that Norm Eisen is going to Prague, about Holder's trip to Spain and that Dana Perino still awaits Senate confirmation.
• USDA says it may relax sugar quotas: The department will make "some adjustment" to the sugar quota, which has been in place for decades.
• 'Growing concern' over marketing tainted beef: Auditors say a program set up to test beef for chemical residues "is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for … dangerous substances, which has resulted in meat with these substances being distributed in commerce."
• Applicants with criminal records challenge census job-screening practices: In a class action suit filed Tuesday, two applicants say they were unfairly rejected for census jobs this year because they could not provide court records of their cases settled decades earlier.
• The Muppets take the Pentagon: "Sesame Street" characters stop by the Pentagon to help military families.
• Three killed in Navy plane crash: The Florida-based T-39N Sabreliner just missed a house when it crashed Monday afternoon, and authorities were looking for a fourth person believed to be aboard.
• GAO: Problems with security at federal buildings continue: In one case, all the guards at an unnamed facility focused on an individual who was stopped with a fake gun, only to allow another FPS inspector to waltz through the security checkpoint unstopped, even though he was carrying two knives.
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION:
• U.S. mine safety agency faulted on choice of man to lead probe into explosion: Former regulators and industry experts said MSHA should have chosen someone else to investigate last week's accident in West Virginia, the deadliest in a quarter-century.
• Obama speech to outline his plans for returning U.S. to space:
He'll announce plans to revise and retain some aspects of the discarded Constellation rocket and space capsule system, commit to selecting a rocket capable of carrying astronauts to deep space within five years and allocate $40 million to put together a job-retraining program for Florida space workers who will lose their jobs.
| April 14, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Congress, Eye Opener, Workplace Issues | Tags: Coal mining, Democratic, Government Agencies, Harry Reid, Labor Department, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Nancy Pelosi, National Football League, Services, United States, United States Congress, United States House of Representatives, Workers' compensation
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