House Republicans are nothing if not consistent. After a day of meetings closed to the public the House Republican Steering Committee (led by a white man) announced leadership for all the major House committees in the 113th Congress and guess what–not a single woman or person of color made the cut.
It doesn’t stop there. Former vice-presidential candidate and proud sponsor of bills that would criminalize contraception and re-define rape, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis) will return to his spot at the head of the Budget Committee, signaling the GOP learned exactly zero from the 2012 election. Ryan will lead House Republicans into budget negotiations and continue to push his ‘tax the poor and coddle the rich’ budget despite the fact that voters overwhelmingly rejected that plan just a few short weeks ago. Ryan’s term was slated to leave the leadership spot since he was term-limited (leadership positions are to be held for no more than six years), but the GOP loves him so much they granted him a waiver and anointed him budget leader once again.
Again, because I’m sure not a single woman or person of color was qualified or interested in the spot.
In contrast House Democrats are likely to have five women as ranking members committees: Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) or Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) on Appropriations, Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) on Financial Services, Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) or Rules, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) on Science and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.) on Small Business. A small number, yes, but a vast improvement from zero.
It’s not like Republicans didn’t have any qualified candidates for committee leadership spots. Michigan Rep. Candice Miller was reportedly close to heading up the Homeland Security Committee but lost that spot to Texas Rep. Mike McCaul, for example. When it comes time to show voters the face of Republican leadership in the House, Republicans chose only men. Why is that?
Could it be that Republicans really can’t imagine their party as big enough for women to take the reigns? If ever there was a time to send that signal to voters, now would be it. Not only is this an opportunity lost to show voters the GOP was serious about trying to mend fences with women voters after routinely talking about women voters and women’s issues with at best disdain and at times outright animosity, this is an opportunity lost to legitimately try and keep the party relevant in the long-term.
More disturbingly, it shows that, deep down Republican men don’t believe women can lead, no matter how hard they pander. Could they not picture a woman leading one of these committees? Did they not know where to look?
Apparently House Republicans were all out of binders.
Obviously the dearth of candidates for leadership slots that happen to be something other than a white man is indicative of the Republican party itself as fewer women and people of color identify as Republican, let alone seek office as one. Isn’t it time the party just admit this freely?
Photo from gageskidmore via flickr.