Democratic lawmaker says young GOP voters will push party leadership on diversity issues

Democratic lawmaker says young GOP voters will push party leadership on diversity issues

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) said on Tuesday he was hopeful young Republican voters would push Republican leadership in Congress to act on diversity issues like passing the Equality Act. 

"[For] younger generations, these are not issues that divide us," Luján, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, told editor-at-large Steve Clemons at The Hill's Diversity Matters Summit sponsored by Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. 

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Luján specifically cited the Equality Act, which would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination in employment, housing, jury selection and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"That's why I have hope that younger generations — as we see our Republican Party get younger, that they will demand action, and they will stand up to the obstruction being caused by elected Republican leaders as is the case with [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties MORE [R-Ky.] and the Equality Act," he said. 

The legislation, which was passed by the Democratic-controlled House in May, has little chance of passing the Senate. 

Luján noted that he believes the only way to pass legislation like the Equality Act, and measures promoting voter rights, is by electing more Democrats. 

"I believe that elections have consequences, and I'm not certain what more can be done until we see that shift in the U.S. Senate," 

"The only place we can take that forward, especially as it's coming forward given the current makeup of the House and Senate, the executive branch of government, is November 2020," he said.

The congressman also touched on the increased diversity in Congress, saying there was still room for improvement after the 2018 midterm elections saw a record number of minorities elected to the legislature. 

Luján served as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in 2018, leading the party to win the majority in the House. 

"When you look at the ethnic and racial breakdown of Congress, this last election it improved dramatically," Luján said. "But still 90 percent of nonwhite members of Congress are on the Democratic side of the aisle, only 10 percent on the Republican side of the aisle. So there's a lot of room for improvement."