This week, a South Florida Republican congresswoman paired up with two congressional Democrats to make federal national security offices more diverse.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., announced this week that she was joining U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., one of the ranking Democrats on the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to bring out the "National Security Diversity and Inclusion Workforce Act" which, according to her office, will “encourage diversity in U.S. national security hiring practices.” U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Mary., has a companion bill over in the U.S. Senate.
Pointing to a 2011 report from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission which found that the State Department, intelligence community and military did not have enough women, Hispanics and African-Americans in their leadership, Ros-Lehtinen made her case for the bill on Wednesday.
“Our nation is strengthened by diverse points of view and a workforce that reflects our country’s identity,” Ros-Lehtinen, the current chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee and the first woman to chair the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleague, Gerry, in order to promote diversity in our national security workforce. The threats our nation faces require that we think creatively and take varying experiences into account to protect our fellow citizens. This bill will help ensure that more women and minorities have a seat at the table when some of the most crucial decisions our country grapples with are being made.”
“Diversity is a unique source of strength for American society, our economy, and our national security,” Connolly said. “We must ensure that our federal workforce reflects the American people it serves. I have collaborated with federal employee groups to promote diversity within federal agencies, and I welcome this opportunity to partner with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to take a comprehensive approach to enhancing diversity in our national security workforce.”
The bill will wind through a series of committees including the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Judiciary, Homeland Security, Agriculture and Financial Services Committees.
Ros-Lehtinen, currently the dean of the Florida delegation, will not run for another term in November.