Today, the Office of the Speaker announced that the House of Representatives will be raising the maximum salary for staff, in tandem with the House Committee on Administration announcing the creation of a Human Resources Hub tasked with helping offices “hire, develop, and retain staff.” Following these announcements, Issue One’s Executive Director, Meredith McGehee, issued the following statement:
“Staff are the backbone of Congress. They are tasked with crafting policy, advancing legislation, and interacting daily with constituents, the essential functions of Congress. By empowering staff, Congress will be better positioned to meet modern challenges and provide the kind of leadership the American people deserve. We at Issue One are proud to have informed and advocated for these critical reforms, and look forward to working with the Select Committee to further strengthen the legislative branch.”
As early as 2016, a group of congressional experts, including McGehee, called on Congress to create a vehicle to strengthen and modernize the legislative branch. In 2019, those efforts materialized into the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a bipartisan body that has produced more than 100 recommendations designed to make Congress function better. Issue One has worked to inform and advance those recommendations alongside the Select Committee.
In her testimony before the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee earlier this year, McGehee addressed the issue of staff pay, noting that when staff leave the Hill for better salaries, they take “valuable expertise and institutional knowledge with them to K Street. This dynamic causes Congress to turn to lobbyists for expertise, undermining voters’ faith in their elected representatives.” Experienced staffers can often make two or three times their salary by leaving and working for a private lobbying firm.
The creation of an HR Hub has also been a consistent recommendation of Issue One’s. Strong HR departments are a hallmark of a healthy workplace environment, and Congress is no exception.
There remains more work to be done, and Issue One will continue to advocate for commonsense solutions that will improve Congress.