House staffers will be able to earn higher salaries than most of the chamber’s lawmakers following a new order by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in an effort to help retain top talent.
Pelosi on Thursday announced that the new maximum staff pay rate will be $199,300 – a higher salary than the $174,000 earned by most members of Congress, Politico first reported. Lawmakers in leadership positions earn more.
“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 we are honored to serve,” Pelosi said in the letter, The Washington Post reported.
Pelosi also said the pay increase “helps ensure parity between employees of the House of Representatives and other employees of the Federal Government.”
The move was made to help prevent experienced senior aides from leaving to accept higher-paying jobs in the private-sector or executive branch. It also could assist entry- and mid-level staff who often have departed because they can’t afford to remain.
Top House staffer salaries – with the maximum salary having been $173,900 — have been more than four times what some entry-level colleagues earn. Politico said it was not clear whether the gains will trickle down to mid and entry-level staffers in member offices.
“We need to make sure entry level staff see these funds as well,” tweeted Kylie Carpenter, a Democrat aide for the House Administration Committee. “Nobody should have to work 60+ hour work weeks at $30k. Especially nobody working for Congress.”
Pelosi earns $223,500 as speaker, while the majority and minority leaders each earn $193,400.
Staff salaries have remained stagnant since 2009, when lawmakers decided to turn down pay raises for themselves to show a message of solidarity with struggling Americans. Previously, members of Congress received annual cost-of-living adjustments to ensure their salaries kept up with inflation.
“Lifting the political staff pay ceiling and increasing funding for staff overall are two crucial steps taken by the House of Congress to ensure capable staff can afford to stay on the Hill,” Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress, told Politico.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., a longtime proponent of raising the salary cap, issued a statement praising the pay increase for “allowing hard-working Congressional employees to make higher salaries and improving Congress’ ability to retain the best and brightest staff serving the American people,” the Post reported
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted in Dec. 2018 about seeing congressional staffers work supplemental jobs as bartenders and servers to afford living in and around Washington, D.C.