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Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay

Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerWhat's a party caucus chair worth? House fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (D-Md.) and Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocrats fundraise off of vote to remove Cheney from GOP leadership On The Money: Breaking down Biden's .8T American Families Plan | Powell voices confidence in Fed's handle on inflation | Wall Street basks in 'Biden boom' Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday made a push to increase the maximum pay for House staffers, saying salaries have become less competitive over time. 

"Many have been serving as Congressional staff for years out of a deep sense of duty, choosing not to pursue or accept competitive offers from the private sector in order to remain in public service," the pair wrote in a letter to Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroCapitol Police watchdog back in spotlight amid security concerns Battle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers On The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July MORE (D-Conn.) and Legislative branch subcommittee Chairman Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Tim Ryan touts labor support in Senate bid Democratic leaders push to boost congressional staff pay MORE (D-Ohio).

"Their commendable sacrifices and contributions ought to be met with the raises and benefit increases they have surely earned through their hard work and dedication," they wrote.

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In the letter, they requested a 20 percent increase for Members' Representational Allowance funds, the amount allotted to offices and committees to conduct official business and pay staff. 

Funding for staff salaries has not increased in line with inflation, particularly in Washington, D.C., where the cost of living and housing have soared in recent years. 

"In our experience, House staff generally prefer working in public service and would remain on Capitol Hill longer if they no longer felt that their only option to afford the cost of living in the Washington metro area and achieve economic security in the middle class is to leave and pursue more lucrative positions in the private sector or the executive branch," they wrote. 

Staff salaries are also capped at the earnings levels members of Congress receive, an issue that itself has led to serious controversies. 

Hoyer led a failed push to increase congressional pay along cost-of-living lines in recent years, but the efforts languished amid concerns of a backlash.

They also noted that efforts to diversify staff on Capitol Hill were hampered by low pay, which people from wealthier families can navigate more easily than those from poorer backgrounds. 

The same thinking has led Congress to provide funding for paid internships in recent years.