DCCC says it will pay interns after protests by interns

DCCC says it will pay interns after protests by interns
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will reportedly begin paying interns in some form in the future after a protest from the current intern class resulted in a roundtable this week with the group's chief, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).

During the meeting with interns on Thursday, Luján pledged that the DCCC is "going forward" with a plan to begin paying interns, adding that new intern classes would be offered a "stipend" for their services, HuffPost reported.

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The DCCC is headquartered in Washington, D.C., where high costs of living often mean that an unpaid internship is impossible without a second job or some sort of outside financial support.

A spokesperson for the DCCC told HuffPost that the organization is “reviewing its intern program" but declined to offer further details.

Luján's meeting with interns came after one member of the current class, Lydia Murray, authored a letter pointing out racial and class disparities in the current class of interns, saying it did not reflect American society as a whole.

“Most of our fellow interns, while undoubtedly bright, are white and wealthy and have no real understanding of the perspectives of everyday working Americans, nor do we have fellow interns with diverse backgrounds to discuss issues, ideas, or experiences with,” her letter read. “It is impossible for us to champion the working class when at the most basic levels, those who work in the party do not represent them on a socioeconomic or racial basis.”

Murray told HuffPost that her frustrations with the party centered around feeling that the party took working-class voters, especially people of color, for granted. In her letter, she pointed to the Democratic National Committee, which began paying interns this year and reportedly saw the percentage of people of color in the program increase from 18 percent to 42 percent.

“There’s this general misunderstanding about people of color, and also this general misunderstanding about working-class people that you hear,” Murray said. “A belief that, of course, people of color are going to vote Democrat, we don’t have to earn their vote anymore. Or a belief that if you’re working class and from the Midwest, this is how you’re going to think.”