Democrats may have lost control of the House of Representatives, but it appears Republicans are embracing their legacy of so-called diversity and inclusion.
Republican congressman Patrick McHenry (N.C.), now the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced earlier this month that there would be six subcommittees—and all of them will count advancing "diversity and inclusion" as one of their top priorities, according to the committee's announcement.
The Subcommittee on Capital Markets, led by Republican Ann Wagner of Missouri, for example, will identify "best practices and policies that continue to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the capital markets industry." And the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, led by Republican Bill Huizenga of Michigan, is tasked with making sure there is "agency and programmatic commitment to diversity and inclusion policies." No other specific oversight focuses were listed.
Diversity and inclusion, two members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion triumvirate now commonly referred to as DEI, have become an obsession for Democrats and left-wing activists in recent years. Republicans won a narrow majority in the midterm elections at least in part due to promises that they would end the Democrats' DEI craze. It was a common barb from the Republican National Committee, for example, that "Democrats prioritize wokeness over solving real problems."
McHenry, a close ally of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), was tapped to chair the influential committee in December. His initial announcement of committee priorities under his leadership included conducting "aggressive oversight" of the Biden administration, putting Americans back in control of their financial data, and regulating the crypto market. In a statement to the Washington Free Beacon, McHenry said the committee's Republican leadership would "refocus the committee on the kitchen table issues that matter to American families."
"For four years, Democrats wasted the valuable and limited time and resources of our committee to push burdensome mandates on American job creators," McHenry said. "Democrats’ goal was to name and shame companies until they parroted their woke social agenda."
The statement made no mention of diversity and inclusion.
Although one of McHenry’s first acts as chairman was to dissolve the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion established by his predecessor Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), the task set out by that subcommittee now appears to have bled into the entire committee's work. Each of those subcommittees, all led by Republicans, includes the term "diversity and inclusion" in the brief description of its jurisdiction.
McHenry also established a new committee, the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology, and Inclusion. Under the leadership of Arkansas Republican French Hill, the subcommittee is tasked with "identifying best practices and policies that continue to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the digital asset ecosystem."
Rep. Warren Davidson (R., Ohio), who chairs the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, will work on "identifying best practices and policies that continue to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the housing industry." Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer's (R., Mo.) Subcommittee on National Security, Illicit Finance, and International Financial Institutions will "continue to strengthen diversity and inclusion within the national security and international finance industry," and Rep. Andy Barr's (R., Ky.) Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Monetary Policy will identify "best practices and policies that continue to strengthen the financial industry’s commitment to diversity and inclusion."
None of the six subcommittee chairs would comment on how they plan to follow through on their "diversity and inclusion" goals.
Republicans reportedly struggled with the decision to eliminate the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, with Politico reporting that McHenry considered making it "part of another committee." The Consumer Bankers Association, a trade organization, wrote in a February 2019 memo that McHenry "expressed his support for the creation of the new subcommittee" during a hearing on "diversity trends in the financial services industry."
It is unclear whether Democrats pressured Republicans into including "diversity and inclusion" in the announcement, but the inclusion of the woke term did not satisfy Waters. The committee's former Democratic chairwoman on Thursday slammed her Republican colleagues for the "insufficient" step.
"Their pledge to make diversity a component of each sub-panel is simply insufficient," Waters said. "We know that a diversity and inclusion strategy with no tangible goals, accountability measures, or a senior point of contact, rarely leads to significant impact."
"My Democratic colleagues and I will continue to hold our Republican colleagues accountable," Waters added, "and do the work to make sure diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of our agenda because as we’ve proven these past four years, diversity matters, and we will not be silent on this important topic."
Under Waters, only the House Financial Services subcommittee she specifically tasked with diversity and inclusion pledged to focus on it.