House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday issued a new directive raising the maximum rate lawmakers can pay House employees to $212,100 annually. That’s $38,000 more than members of Congress.
The move comes after Pelosi already issued a directive earlier this year raising the maximum wage staff can earn from $199,300 to $203,700. At the time, Pelosi set the minimum salary level for House employees at $45,000.
For decades, the move was seen as breaking precedent, as there were no official House rules governing staff salaries. Instead, the House office was free to negotiate staff salaries on an individual basis.
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Pelosi, who plans to relinquish her chairman’s gavel when the new Republican Congress is inaugurated on Tuesday, said the move would help Congress retain high-quality staff that could otherwise be lured into private-sector employment. Said it helps to
“As you know, hard-working, patriotic congressional staff are essential to the functioning of the House,” California Democrat Pelosi wrote in a letter to congressmen. “To that end, we will do everything we can to retain and recruit the best talent in our country, and to build a congressional workforce that reflects the communities we are honored to serve. I have to do something.”
A new salary cap means that senior officials can earn more than lawmakers who work as employees. Both Congressmen and Senators are paid $174,000 annually.
Pelosi said the pay increase would provide the largest salaries available for house staff, in line with President Biden’s administration.
A report by centrist advocacy group Issue One found that before the new minimum wage rule was introduced, there was a large pay gap between offices.
The group found that in some offices, especially those run by progressive Democrats, interns have a wide pay scale that can even earn as much as $15 an hour. Meanwhile, other offices were making less than $30,000 a year for junior staff.
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Overall, Issue 1 found that one in eight congressional offices does not pay wages comparable to the cost of living in Washington, DC.