This week, Issue One joined 17 organizations and congressional experts urging the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to conduct a study on the current benefits available to House staff. The letter supports the recommendations outlined by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, and Committee on House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren, and offers an additional suggestion to examine the mental health services available to House staff.
“A capable, experienced, and representative staff is critical to Members’ capability to fulfill their constitutional obligations and meet the needs of their constituents…Over the last 30 years, the responsibilities assumed by congressional staff have grown alongside a 30% increase in the American population and a 700% jump in federal spending. Despite these trends and the wide range of responsibilities facing them, however, House staff receive lower pay and less robust benefits compared to executive branch and private sector employees,” states the letter.
It continues: “In order for Congress to uphold its responsibilities to the American people, the institution must be able to attract and retain a capable and diverse workforce. This is why we support the request of House leadership and echo the call for your office to conduct a study on the current benefits available. Understanding the full scope of benefits available to House staff will provide a clear picture of the current gaps in staff compensation and give the House an opportunity to address these gaps in a meaningful, evidence-based manner.”
Many congressional staff continue to struggle with lasting trauma following the violent events of January 6th, which is why it is crucial for the CAO to study the mental health benefits available to House staff and how they compare with those offered to other public and private sector employees.
Notably, the letter also recognizes the budgetary challenges facing the CAO and calls for House leadership to ensure that costs for this study, including outside contracts, not be taken from CAO’s core appropriation.
Given the vital role House staff play in the daily operations of Congress, it is important for staff to be valued and supported appropriately for their work. A study conducted by the CAO will give meaningful insight into how the benefits and compensation for House staff compare to those offered to U.S. Senate, executive branch, and private sector employees. By uncovering this information, this study would give the House the opportunity to address any deficiencies and move towards creating a healthy and productive workplace environment.
The letter was addressed to the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives, Catherine Szpindor.
Read the full letter here.
The full list of signatories of this letter are as follows:
Bipartisan Policy Center Action
College to Congress
Congressional Management Foundation
Courtney Robinson, Former House Committee Staff*
Democracy Fund Voice
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
Kevin Esterling, University of California, Riverside*
Kevin Kosar, American Enterprise Institute*
Lisa Peto, Former House Staff*
Lorelei Kelly, Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown*
NALEO Educational Fund
Pay Our Interns
Project On Government Oversight
Rick Shapiro, Strategic Assets Consulting*
* Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.