CBC Chair Has Ideas About How Obama Can Diversify Cabinet

CBC Chair Marcia Fudge suggests Obama appoint Reps. Mel Watt and Barbara Lee to his cabinet.

Diversity in the White House has dominated the headlines this week, but Rep. Marcia Fudge, the Congressional Black Caucus' new chair, has been thinking about ways President Obama could broaden his tent.

In a letter sent to the president on Jan. 10, Fudge proposed that he consider North Carolina Rep. Melvin Watt for Commerce Secretary and California Rep. Barbara Lee to head the Labor Department.

In an interview with, Fudge cited Watt's extensive financial services background and Lee's record of aggressive advocacy for jobs and job training, which she says makes them extremely qualified. Neither has actively sought the positions, she added, "but I think they both would be honored and pleased if they were offered."

While Fudge understands that different groups are anxious to see themselves reflected in his top appointments, she also called for patience.

"The president is working toward a more diverse cabinet, and there will be other appointments," she said. "But certainly we do want it to be a diverse cabinet."

Some analysts this week have noted that part of the challenge is a pipeline issue. Fudge agrees.

"There are clearly women and minorities who have the skills, but don't always come to the top because people don't know who they are and what they're doing," she said. "It's important to create a farm team that is readily available to move into these positions."

And as they become more visible in corporate America and other institutions, she added, awareness of them will grow.

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(Photo: Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images)

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