110 House Democrats endorse boost to staff pay

110 House Democrats endorse boost to staff pay
© Greg Nash

A group of 110 House Democrats on Monday endorsed funding increases to boost pay for staff.

In a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroPublic charter schools group blasts proposed Democratic cut For true American prosperity, make the child tax credit permanent Overnight Health Care: FDA adds new warning to J&J COVID-19 vaccine | WHO chief pushes back on Pfizer booster shot | Fauci defends Biden's support for recommending vaccines 'one on one' MORE (D-Conn.), the Democratic lawmakers called for a 21 percent increase in the Member Representational Allowance (MRA), which they said would go towards increasing staff salaries.

“If we as Members are to fulfill our responsibility to govern effectively for the people and deliver on our Majority’s promises to renew faith in government by ensuring that Congress reflects the American people we serve, we must be able to recruit and retain a diverse and talented workforce to help Members, leadership, and committees carry out their work,” the Democrats wrote.

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They claimed that the low wages have "hamstrung" congressional offices' abilities to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, writing “the low salary available to entry-level staff continue to raise barriers to entry and advantage those who are already wealthy and connected.”

“These realities have hamstrung the House in our ability to recruit and retain the talented and diverse workforce we need to serve the diversity and needs of the American people in the best way possible,” the letter added.

The lawmakers said that last year, House staff salaries were cut 20.7 percent from the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) 10-year baseline projections from 2011.

They said it is “no wonder” that the average congressional staff member leaves their job after three years.

The group also said it hopes the budget allocation for the legislative branch will “account for a need to offer more competitive benefits to staff.”

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“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns and underpaid, overworked staff just because some conservatives want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility,’” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezEx-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa Omar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — West Coast wildfires drive East Coast air quality alerts MORE (D-N.Y.), who spearheaded the effort, said in a statement.

“The lack of diversity on the Hill can be traced directly to our failure to pay staff a living wage. Low-pay also contributes to the undue influence of money in politics, with experienced Hill staffers frequently leaving to work for lobbyists and other special interests. This investment will create a stronger Congress and better policy for the country,” she added.

Daniel Schuman, the policy director of Demand Progress, endorsed the effort by House Democrats, writing that compensating congressional staff with a living wage is the “humane” thing to do.

The push from the House Democrats comes after House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats warn leadership against excluding House from infrastructure talks Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers Bipartisan antitrust leaders urge FTC to pursue Facebook case MORE (D-Md.) and Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker Progressive fighting turns personal on internal call over antitrust bills Democratic tensions simmer in House between left, center MORE (D-N.Y.) in April called for an increase of the maximum pay for House staffers, claiming that salaries have become less competitive over time.

The lawmakers specifically requested a 20 percent increase for Members’ Representational Allowance Funds.