Last week, current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the salary cap for House staffers will be increased.
The new annual maximum salary of $199,300 comes in order to “help the Congress recruit and retain the outstanding and diverse talent that we need, as it also helps to ensure parity between employees of the House of Representatives and other employees of the Federal Government,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to fellow lawmakers. “As Speaker, I have been proud to take steps to ensure a diversity of experience and talent among staff, so that the halls of Congress, at every level, truly reflect those who are honored to serve.”
The Federal Times reports that the previous cap was $173,900, and the new rate would also put earning potential closer to that of members of the Senior Executive Service and those in senior-level, scientific and professional positions. Although her note refers to Congress, Pelosi’s office clarified the order only applies to the House.
This new annual rate for top staff means the high-ranking staffers could make more than most Congressmen and women, who earn an annual salary of $174,000 with the exception of those in leadership (The Washington Post). Low pay is one of the many things Congressional staffers have reported as being a reason for leaving their jobs.
The turnover rate even led one Congressional reporter to say for The Washington Times, “The most powerful nation on Earth is run largely by 24-year olds.” In 2018, Casey Burgat reported, “On average, 18.5 percent of House staffers vacate their office in a given year, with very little deviation or differences by political party.” Just last year, the average Congressional aide salary was found to range from $20,000 to $50,000 per year, depending on position, experience, party lines, and between the Senate and House (Chron).
President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, Bradford Fitch, spoke at a hearing before the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress: “Many staffers often quickly leave due to the punishing schedule, comparatively low pay, high stakes, and/or public derision.” He continued, “A legislative assistant in the House with three years of experience or more could easily increase their pay by 25-50 percent if they move to a trade association or a lobby shop.”
Pelosi did cite the work of that particular committee in her letter, noting, “This important action follows steps taken over the last two Congress to make the House more inclusive, open, and representative of the full range of voices and values of our communities.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES
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