Congresswoman Escobar Co-Leads Bicameral Letter to Promote Diversity and Inclusion at the Department of Defense

August 14, 2019
Press Release

(El Paso, TX) – Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), member of the House Armed Services Committee, joined Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) in co-leading a bicameral letter with Representatives Anthony Brown (MD-04), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Katie Hill (CA-25), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Andy Kim (NJ-03), and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), which was sent to the Chairpersons and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees as they begin conference negotiations on the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In the letter, the Members and Senators assert that diversity and inclusion is a strategic imperative that must be prioritized, especially at a time when the military services are facing a shrinking recruiting pool. Improving access to a wide a range of talented individuals is critical to our military readiness an overall national security strategy.  Additionally, preserving diversity across our military supports creative problem solving and decision making and contributes to mutual understanding of other countries and cultures.

“Our nation’s strength is in our diversity and our armed forces should be no exception,” said Rep. Veronica Escobar. “Diversity and inclusion in our military not only reflects our values, it gives us more resilient and innovative forces with servicemembers that bring unique perspectives and talents to address our national security challenges. Now more than ever, Congress should work to ensure our Department of Defense has the resources needed to preserve and grow a diverse workforce that looks like America.”

“Diversity is one of our country’s strengths and our military should reflect the diversity of our nation,” said Rep. Gil Cisneros. “A diverse military helps create a more intelligent, capable, and effective fighting force.”

“Our institutions thrive when they reflect the people they serve,” said Sen. Kamala Harris. “Diversity, inclusion, and representation in our military is fundamental to our strength and our security, and we must be committed to promoting these values from top to bottom.”

“Our diversity is one of our greatest military assets, and our difficulty recruiting remains one of our most pernicious challenges,” said HASC Vice Chair Anthony Brown. “Increasing diversity in the military is not only critical to the mission of building a fighting force that looks like America but is also crucial to building a military that is strong enough to defend America from any and all threats. I am proud to have added a number of provisions to increase diversity in the military in the House-passed NDAA, and I urge the conference committee to maintain those provisions in the final bill.”

“When I was a young Air Force officer, I didn’t see a lot of women engineers like me, whom I could emulate,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. “Fast forward to earlier this year, when as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I sat across from the Department of Defense’s senior research and engineering leaders – all white men. We can do better. Intentionally building a more diverse Department of Defense will bolster our national security and ensure that our next generation of national security leaders sees a path for themselves in public service.”

The letter was also co-signed by: Representatives Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Andy Levin (MI-09), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Lou Correa (CA-46), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), TJ Cox (CA-21), Susan Davis (CA-53), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Norma Torres (CA-35), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), James McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Judy Chu (CA-27), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), André Carson (IN-07), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), William Keating (MA-09), Jaime Raskin (MD-08), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), David Trone (MD-06), Al Green (TX-09), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Sean Casten (IL-06), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Susan Wild (PA-07), Donna Shalala (FL-27), Jason Crow (CO-06), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Lacy Clay (MO-01), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Grace Meng (NY-06), and Tony Cárdenas (CA-29); Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

 

You can find the full text of the letter below and download the text here.

 

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