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House GOP struggles with diversity

It appears House Republicans have again embraced homogeneity with great enthusiasm.
House Republicans have picked their committee chairs.
House Republicans have picked their committee chairs.

House Republicans have selected white men to chair all but one of their standing committees next year. The secretive Republican Steering Committee announced its recommendations late Tuesday after an all-day meeting to pick the heads of 17 committees, with all of those slots going to white men. Rep. Candice Miller, who was previously reappointed by Speaker John Boehner to lead the House Administration Committee, will remain the only woman to wield a gavel.

As Rachel explained last night, "This is your Republican Party in Washington in all its glory. It should be noted, this is the cross-section of America they're offering to the American people now that they've taken power."
Of course, these are just the committee chairs. The House Republican leadership has also taken shape and it will feature three white men and one white woman. In the Senate, the incoming Republican majority has not yet announced its committee chairs, but the GOP leadership team in the upper chamber will be compromised entirely of five white men.
Diversity in the ranks has been a problem for a while, though Republican officials evidently do not yet have a solution.
As we talked about a while back, during the Republicans' government shutdown last fall, GOP leaders thought they'd come up with a brilliant stunt: they'd send leading Republican lawmakers to a conference room, position them opposite empty chairs, and show how eager they were to negotiate (i.e., they were willing to listen to Democrats try to make them happy with a series of offers).
Party officials snapped photos and distributed them widely, oblivious to appearances: Republicans had chosen eight middle-aged, far-right white guys, most of whom are from the South, and lined them up next to each other. When they promoted the photo, GOP leaders never stopped to notice that everyone in the room looked remarkably similar to one another.
What's more, when it comes to committee witnesses -- experts called in to offer guidance to policymakers -- House Republicans invite men to testify 77% of the time.
And specifically on the issue of committee chairs, Republicans had to scramble two years ago after it unveiled the slate of chairs who looked an awful lot like one another, quickly naming Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) as the new head of the House Administration Committee -- despite the fact that she wasn't actually on the House Administration Committee at the time.
The House Administration Committee, by the way, is responsible for overseeing the administrative tasks associated with the Capitol itself -- the cafeteria, office supplies, etc. It's not, in other words, one of the powerful, sought-after gigs members of Congress are eager to get.