‘I haven’t checked, we don’t have a racial quota’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Capitol Hill on January 19, 2022.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

  • McConnell was asked how many Black women he has on staff and how they inform his thinking on SCOTUS nominations.

  • “Actually, I haven’t checked. We don’t have a racial quota,” he said in response.

  • But he also said he’s hired Black people before for numerous different jobs, “including speechwriter.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fielded a question on Tuesday about the number of Black women on his staff, and how they might inform his decision on President Joe Biden’s impending Supreme Court nominee.

“Actually, I haven’t checked, we don’t have a racial quota in my office,” he told reporter Pablo Manriquez about how many Black women he employs.

“But I’ve had a number of African American employees, both male and female, over the years, in all kinds of different positions, including speechwriter,” McConnell went on to say.

Biden has pledged to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court to replace the retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer. A number of potential candidates have already emerged and Biden said he plans to announce his decision by the end of February.

McConnell’s comments come as a number of Republicans in his caucus — including Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Ted Cruz of Texas — have criticized Biden, with Wicker saying the president’s nominee would be a “beneficiary” of affirmative action.

Cruz, for his part, went a little further.

“The fact that he’s willing to make a promise at the outset, that it must be a Black woman, I gotta say that’s offensive. You know, Black women are what, 6% of the US population? He’s saying to 94% of Americans, ‘I don’t give a damn about you, you are ineligible,’” Cruz said recently on his podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz.”

Video: How Congress has become divided over the years

But previous Republican presidents have made similar promises, with both Former President Donald Trump and even the late President Ronald Reagan pledging to nominate women to the court.

It’s unclear how many Black staffers McConnell currently has on staff, and his office did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on that point.

McConnell recently missedpoke during a separate conference, telling reporters that “African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” seemingly implying that the two are separate categories. He later said the remarks contained an “inadvertent omission,” while also slamming his critics.

“I’ve never been accused of this kind of thing before. It’s hurtful, it’s offensive, and it’s total nonsense,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky.

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