Pelosi said on Aug. 12 that her order means staffers can make as much as $199,300 per year.
That’s more than virtually all House and Senate members make. Most receive $174,000 per year, although Pelosi, as speaker. earns $223,500 annually and the minority and majority leaders, along with the Senate’s president pro tempore, earn approximately $193,400 per year, according to the Congressional Research Service.
“This order will help the Congress recruit and retain the outstanding and diverse talent that we need, as it also helps ensure parity between employees of the House of Representatives and other employees of the Federal Government,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues.
The order delinks staff pay from the compensation for members, which was recommended by several Democrats, including Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also recommended an increase in pay for House staffers earlier this year.
“Salaries and benefits that are not competitive with the private sector hinder Congress’s ability to compete for talented and experienced staff. As a result, Congressional staffers are more likely to leave after just a few years, and this brain drain and accelerated staff-turnover impact our ability to effectively serve the American people,” Hoyer said.
Think tank New America said in a 2020 report that the annual exodus of some of the most talented staffers stemmed in part from paltry salaries and lengthy work hours.
Kylie Carpenter, a Democratic staffer for the House Administration Committee, wrote on Twitter that she hopes entry-level staffers, in addition to senior staffers, see a bump in pay from Pelosi’s order.
“We need to make sure entry-level staff see these funds as well. Nobody should have to work 60+ hour work weeks at $30k. Especially nobody working for Congress,” she wrote.
The average pay for most positions in House offices fell from 2001 to 2019, according to another Congressional Research Service report from 2020. The median pay for communications directors dropped by 13.36 percent, while office managers saw their effective salary cut by nearly a quarter.