These two charts show the lack of diversity in the House and Senate

house senate diversity

KEY POINTS
  • Both chambers of Congress are largely composed of white people.
  • But the number of nonwhite lawmakers has gradually increased in the House at a faster rate than in the Senate.
  • The 116th Congress overall is the most diverse since 1930, according to a CNBC visualization of data from the Brookings Institution.

The House has become more diverse at a faster rate than the Senate, a CNBC analysis shows, but both chambers are still predominantly white.

The number of nonwhite lawmakers has gradually increased in the House at a faster rate than in the Senate.

Congress overall is the most diverse it’s ever been, according to a CNBC visualization of data from the Brookings Institution.

In the House and Senate, at least 114 lawmakers are either African American, Asian or Hispanic, meaning that more than 1 in 5 lawmakers in the 116th Congress is a person of color and nearly 8 in 10 are white.

The data also shows there are far more Democratic than Republican people of color.

Here is a breakdown of the number of people in Congress by race:

  • African American: 53 representatives, 3 senators
  • Asian American: 12 representatives, 3 senators
  • Hispanic American: 39 representatives, 4 senators

Since 1870, 162 African Americans have served in Congress, according to congressional data from EveryCRSReport.com. Of those, 152 have served in the House while nine have served in the Senate. One has served in both chambers.

Though both chambers appear to be getting more diverse with each election cycle, the number of white lawmakers still remains disproportionate to the racial breakdown of Americans in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that in 2019, 60.4% of Americans identified as white only, excluding those who identified as Hispanic or Latino.

But about 79% of Congress is white, according to the Brookings data.

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