Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday issued a new directive raising the maximum rate that lawmakers can pay House staff to $212,100 annually — $38,000 more than what members of Congress make.
The move comes after Pelosi already issued a directive earlier this year raising the maximum pay staffers can make from $199,300 to $203,700. At the time, Pelosi also instituted a minimum salary level of $45,000 for House staff.
The move was seen as precedent-breaking since for decades there were no official House rules governing staffer pay. Instead, House offices were free to negotiate staff pay individually.
Pelosi, who is set to relinquish the speaker’s gavel when the new Republican Congress takes office on Tuesday, said the move would help Congress retain quality staff who might otherwise be lured by private-sector employment.
‘As you know, our hard-working, patriotic congressional staffers are integral to the functioning of the House of Representatives,’ Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to House lawmakers. ‘To that end, we must do all we can to retain and recruit the best talent in our nation — and to build a congressional workforce that reflects the communities we are honored to serve.’
The new salary cap means that senior staffers can make more annually than the lawmakers who serve as their employees. Both House and Senate lawmakers are paid $174,000 annually.
Pelosi said the pay hike brings the maximum salary available for house staffers in line with President Biden’s administration.
Before the new minimum pay rule, there was a wide pay divergence between offices, according to a report by the centrist advocacy group Issue One.
The group found that some offices, most notably run by progressive Democrats, have wide-ranging pay scales with interns even making as much as $15 per hour. Other offices, meanwhile, paid junior staffers salaries below $30,000 per year.
Overall, Issue One found one out of eight congressional offices were not paying wages that are comparable to the cost of living in Washington, D.C. The report estimated that there were roughly 1,200 congressional staffers making less than $42,610 annually.