Demand Progress Action and Congressional Progressive Staff Association Call on Senate Leadership to Increase Staff Pay Floor to $45,000

The CPSA letter was signed by 150 current congressional staffers, while the letter led by the advocacy organization Demand Progress Action was signed by over 15 organizations.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Congressional Progressive Staff Association (CPSA) and Demand Progress Action sent two letters to Senator Pro-Tempore Patrick Leahy and Senate Leadership calling for the upper chamber to match the House’s commitment to paying their staff a minimum salary of $45,000 a year.

Following the release of CPSA’s survey data analyzing workplace conditions of over 500 staffers in both the House and Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a pay floor of $45,000 for all congressional staffers in the House. This will officially become House policy on September 1st, but thousands of staffers in the Senate will still be making less than $45,000 a year without further action from Senate Leadership.

Writing as the “staffers who make up the fabric of your offices,” the signers of the letter say that “establishing a minimum salary floor of $45,000 for Senate staff would be a welcome change for the staffers who commit their lives to this institution. Like House staffers, Senate staff struggle to pay rent, bills, and keep food on the table. 

Compensating Senate staff fairly would not only enable current staff to keep their heads above water while the cost of living rises across the country, but it would also open more doors in the halls of Congress to those who wish to make their country a better place.

These letters come after recent findings that staffers of color across both parties make on average only 91 percent as much as their white staff counterparts – or around $5,600 less each year. 

150 current congressional staffers signed onto the CPSA letter, and all signatories were verified to be CPSA members and congressional staffers.

This push for a pay floor in the Senate is widely supported by 16 good government organizations, who also penned a letter this week to chamber leadership on the importance of improving compensation for Senate junior-level staffers. The letter was organized by Demand Progress. 

“Congressional staff are the lifeblood of Congress and providing a $45,000 pay floor for full-time Senate staff demonstrates Senate lawmakers’ vested interest in providing a living wage for its workforce,” said Taylor J. Swift, policy advisor for Demand Progress Action. “Investing in the congressional workforce, especially for entry- and mid-level congressional staffers, creates an incentive for current staffers to stay in Congress longer and also provides a better opportunity for others to work in public service who may not have been able to afford to do so previously.”

CPSA was formed in June 2021 to amplify the voices and experiences of progressive staffers, to advocate for progressive issues impacting our membership, and to fight for fair working conditions for congressional employees. The association currently has over 1,100 members and is growing every day.

Demand Progress Action is a national grassroots group with over 1.5 million affiliated activists who fight for basic rights and freedoms needed for a modern democracy. Demand Progress Action has spent years pushing for better working conditions and pay for congressional staffers and greater public access to legislative information.

Read the full Demand Progress Action letter here and below.

July 21, 2022

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, urge you to require that no full-time Senate staff person is paid less than $45,000 annually, matching the pay floor for congressional staff in the House of Representatives. Congress is fortunate to employ hard-working public servants whose skill, dedication, and patriotism are the lifeblood of the institution and an asset to the members for whom they work. Providing a minimum basic level of pay ensures that all Americans who wish to work for the Senate can have the opportunity to do so without undue economic hardship, which will serve to enhance the upper chamber’s staff pipeline. Moreover, the minimum terms of employment for Senate staff should not be inferior to that of the House of Representatives or the Executive branch. 

The Senate president pro tempore has the statutory authority to establish pay levels and rate for the Senate — a decision that can be made in consultation with the majority and minority leaders. We request you encourage the promulgation of an appropriate minimum pay rate. We note that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a pay order that will require, by September 1, that all House staff be paid no less than $45,000 annually.  

Investing more resources into the congressional workforce, especially for those at the bottom of the pay scale, can reduce opportunities for regulatory capture by lobbyists, mitigate the risk of unintended negative policy outcomes through stronger staffing, and increase accountability of the federal government through expanded and knowledgeable oversight.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this further. Please contact Taylor J. Swift, policy advisor at Demand Progress Action at [email protected].


American Family Voices

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO

College to Congress

Congressional Management Foundation

Demand Progress Action

Fight for the Future

Fix the Court

Media Alliance

National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys

Professional Managers Association

Revolving Door Project

Senior Executives Association

Sunrise Movement

Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute (emeritus)*

Robert Cook-Deegan, Arizona State University*

Laura Manley, Harvard Kennedy School*

Lorelei Kelly, Georgetown University*

James Hemm, New Jersey Association on Correction*

*= Affiliations listed for identification purposes only. 


The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Senate Pro Tempore and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee

The Honorable Richard Shelby, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee

The Honorable Jack Reed, Chair of the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee

The Honorable Mike Braun, Ranking Member of the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee