House Speaker John Boehner on Nov. 27 announced the House committee chairs for the 113th Congress. The 19 names proffered, however, are all White men—no women, no minorities.
It is a move that seems to belie the GOP’s mea culpas about its lack of diversity—apologies that were prodded by the party’s election losses, mostly at the hands of women and minority voters.
The selections are also in glaring contrast to the Democratic contingent on Capitol Hill: White men are expected to represent only 47 percent of the Democratic Caucus in the next Congress. And, the group is expected to name at least nine women and minorities among their 19 committee leaders, including California representative Maxine Waters, who is likely to be the ranking member of the financial services committee, and John Conyers (D-Mich.), who will likely retain his spot as ranking member of the judiciary committee. South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn also is likely to remain third in the ranks of the House leadership.
GOP apologists argue that Boehner had a limited field to choose from—House Republicans lost one of their two Black members in the recent elections in freshman Florida Rep. Allen West, and one of its eight Latino members, leaving only eight racial or ethnic minorities in the Caucus. And, the GOP caucus comprises a mere 7 percent of women—17 women will be among the ranks of 234 or 235 Republican members in January.
Boehner did include women in Caucus leadership positions. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), will be the Republican Conference chairman, the fourth top Republican in the House; Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), will be the conference's vice-chair, and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), will act as conference secretary.