Diversity and Minority Interest Group Advocacy in Congress

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This paper examines the role that racial and ethnic diversity plays in improving the legislative success of minority interest groups. Relying on campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures to explain minority interest groups’ influence on legislators’ behavior is not sufficient, because most minority organizations are public charities, or 501(c)(3) organizations, and as such are both banned by federal law from making candidate contributions and limited in how much they can spend on federal lobbying. I argue, however, that the inclusion of more blacks and Latinos on congressional committees enhances the lobbying influence—and thus the legislative success—of civil rights organizations in Congress. Using data from lobbying disclosure reports on bills supported by black American and Latino civil rights groups in the 110th Congress (2007–2008) and 111th Congress (2009–2010), as well as House markup data, I find that National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR), and UnidosUS-supported bills referred to House committees with greater proportions of racial and ethnic minorities received more markups than did bills referred to House committees with less diversity. Diversity is significant in predicting committee attention even when accounting for possible confounding factors, including committee jurisdiction and the ideological composition of committee membership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-220
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Blacks
  • Congress
  • Latinos
  • advocacy
  • interest groups
  • lobbying

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