To outline its concerns, the Joint Congressional Staff Task Force on Racial Justice and Reform sent a preliminary report to House and Senate leaders on Thursday. “While we help write the laws that govern the United States, we still live in a society that treats us and our families as second-class citizens,” the group said in a letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Working in Washington at the Capitol complex offers daily reminders, including office buildings “named after self-avowed racists,” the letter says, alluding to a building that bears the name of the late Sen. Richard B. Russell, who helped filibuster civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
“The duality of our lived experiences as Black Americans and participants in the federal policy making process forces us to reconcile our nation’s past and present on a daily basis,” the letter says.
The idea behind the task force is for staffers to break with tradition and use their own voices — not their bosses’ — to advocate for legislation proposed during the current Congress. But they have to walk a fine between shedding light and pushing for specific bills. Because of its bylaws, CBA does not take a public stance on legislation, and over its four decades in existence, the staff association has focused instead on helping Black aides climb the career ladder on the Hill through networking and mentorship.
“We understand that traditionally Hill staff have not done something like this before,” the letter says, before citing the advice of the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis for people to answer the calling of their hearts and stand up for their beliefs.
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