House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is setting a minimum salary for staffers in the House of Representatives, the first time that’s ever been done, at $45,000. Pelosi announced the new minimum salary in a “Dear Colleague” letter to all members of the House.
“With a competitive minimum salary, the House will better be able to retain and recruit excellent, diverse talent,” Pelosi said in the letter to her colleagues. “Doing so will open the doors to public service for those who may not have been able to afford to do so in the past. This is also an issue of fairness, as many of the youngest staffers working the longest hours often earn the lowest salaries.”
Entry-level staffers on Capitol Hill are notoriously underpaid in of the most expensive cities in the country —and that’s after typically unpaid internships — often preventing young people without access to family money from working on the Hill, and skewing the congressional staffer population to be Whiter than the rest of America on average. The lower salaries mean more experienced congressional staffers often leave for the private sector, where they can earn more, taking with them institutional knowledge.
Staff assistants — the first entry-job for many Capitol Hill staffers — often earn in the range of $30,000-$40,000 per year, not nearly enough to afford even a studio apartment, which average $1,887 a month in Washington, D.C., according to Apartment List.
The House will also vote next week on a resolution recognizing congressional workers’ right to organize, Pelosi told members. If that resolution passes, House staffers will be able to join the union if they choose.
The deadline for House offices and committees to implement the new $45,000 staffer minimum salary is September 1.
Pelosi said members are encouraged to use the 21% funding increase passed for offices in March to enact the pay adjustment.
“Thank you for your commitment fairness and diversity,” Pelosi wrote.
— Nikole Killion contributed to this report