This week, as part of a coalition led by Pay Our Interns, we sent a letter to leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch asking them to include at least $7 million in dedicated funding to compensate Senate committee interns.
Ensuring Senate committee interns can get paid removes personal wealth as a precondition for public service. That’s important for Senate committees to foster a more inclusive and diverse internship program that attracts individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds, not just those of means who can afford to live in one of the most expensive US cities while not getting paid. Ultimately, this will improve the Senate’s ability to recruit interns into the congressional staff pipeline who better reflect the diversity of America.
Besides that, while the House currently has such a policy, the disparity between the two chambers can cause confusion to prospective interns. Imagine you were choosing an internship on the Hill — would you aim for the one you know has dedicated funding in the House or take your chances on a Senate committee that may or may not have a budget to pay you?
Dedicated funding enables Senate committees to set clear objectives, establish structured programs separate from the personal office funding, and provide necessary resources and support for interns.
Read the letter here.
There’s a growing effort this appropriations season to decrease Member Representational Allowance (MRA) funds, which would inevitably result in lower pay for congressional staff, something a new coalition led by Demand Progress is fighting.
Today, Demand Progress sent a bipartisan letter to leadership on the House Committee on Appropriations, urging them to retain MRA funding levels to the FY23 amount.
Why? Low staffer pay fuels the revolving door and drives a high turnover rate on Capitol Hill — a staff exodus hit a 20-year high in 2021. When Congress loses institutional knowledge like that, it’s less able to govern and conduct oversight. It’s more likely to let lobbyists sway policy.
“Cutting MRAs is a horrible return on investment for the Legislative branch. For decades, Congress underpaid its own staff, self-inflicting a wound of diminished capacity, which undercut its ability to oversee and rein in the federal government’s sprawling administrative bureaucracy,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress. “To retain expert staff and promote a strong workforce, it’s essential Congress pays its staff at least as much as their counterparts in the Executive branch and private sector.”
Read the full letter here and below:
Continue reading “Don’t Slash Hill Staff Pay Says Left-Right Coalition”
Within a week of our action with allies Congressional Progressive Staff Association (CPSA) and the Congressional Workers Union, the House approved overtime pay regulations for House staff to go into effect next year.
Outgoing CHA Chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren introduced a resolution Monday to implement the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights (OCWR) regulations to update Fair Labor Standards Act overtime provisions for congressional staff with a “nifty procedural move” according to CQ Roll Call’s Jim Saksa.
This is one of many reforms the House has passed this year to improve congressional staff pay and benefits that we have championed.
“This is an incredible investment in the congressional workforce and affirms the House’s commitment to improve workplace conditions, benefits, and pay for congressional staff” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress. “This has been a paramount year for improving staffers’ rights in the House, and now it’s time for the Senate to take action to ensure their staff have the same overtime pay rights. We applaud congressional leadership for approving this overtime pay provision, and we laud outgoing CHA Chair Lofgren for her swift action to include it in the Continuing Resolution.”
We will continue to work with our coalition partners on the Hill to ensure Senate staff can enjoy the same rights.
Demand Progress Action joined forces with the Congressional Progressive Staff Association (CPSA) and the Congressional Workers Union to implore leaders from both chambers to enact Office of Congressional Workplace Rights (OCWR) regulations to update Fair Labor Standards Act overtime provisions for congressional staff before the lame duck session ends. Demand Progress sent letters today to House and Senate leaders. The CPSA letter endorsed by the Congressional Workers Union and more than 220 congressional staffers is here.
Back in September, the OCWR described the current regulations as “woefully outdated” when it issued new guidelines that would bring congressional overtime pay to parity with the executive branch and private sector. The newly proposed regulations cannot go into effect until approved separately or collectively by each chamber of Congress.
Continue reading “Demand Progress, Congressional Progressive Staff Association, and Congressional Workers Union Urge Congress to Approve Congressional Staff Pay Overtime Regulations”
“At long last, no Member of the House of Representatives is permitted to pay their staff poverty wages. As of September 1, every staff person in the House of Representatives must be paid at least $45,000 a year, which meets the living wage in high cost Washington, DC,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress. “We applaud the House staff who have spoken out in support of a living wage for their colleagues, the Members of Congress who advocated for a pay floor, and Speaker Pelosi and House leadership for establishing this common-sense requirement that removes personal wealth as a precondition for public service. We urge the Senate to join the House and establish a $45,000 pay floor for all staff.”