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Capitol Hill staffers divulge how a cutthroat workplace with low pay and lots of bad bosses shape their lives

  • Insider has been reporting on how low salaries and workplace issues impact Congress’ staffers.
  • Some staffers’ salaries were so low, they qualified for income-assisted housing or took second jobs.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently announced a higher salary cap for senior staff.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

They may walk the halls of Congress in neatly-pressed suits and help their bosses write important legislation, but their bank accounts tell a different story.

Entire paychecks eaten by day care expenses. Vending-machine ice cream for dinner. Hundreds of dollars going to a decade’s worth of credit-card debt. Relying on income-assisted housing to keep a roof over their head. Meanwhile, no formal human resources department exists to mediate workplace and salary issues, or properly handle toxic bosses. Instead, employees are expected to conform to a culture of silence around bad behavior, despite Congress offering several resources for staff to utilize.

Capitol Hill staffers, who are paid starting in the $20,000s, work demanding jobs in one of the most expensive cities in the country. For years, advocates have pushed for Congress to raise their salaries so that talented aides seeking better pay didn’t head for the revolving door.

On August 12, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, announced that she was raising the salary cap for senior aides to $199,300. That mean’s they’ll finally be able to make more than rank-and-file members, who still earn $174,000 annually. Decoupling staffer pay from members’ salaries, so they could get paid more, is a move long sought by good government groups and advocates within Congress.

For several months, ahead of the Speaker’s announcement, Insider has covered Capitol Hill workplace and salary issues. Most recently, Insider asked current and former congressional staffers about how far their paychecks got them in Washington, DC. We received an outpouring of responses from staffers at all levels who felt compelled to speak up about what they considered a practice that hinders diversity, favors hires from privileged backgrounds, and drives talented minds to lobbying shops.

Their salaries ranged from $30,000 to $85,000 — but even the staffer on the higher end confessed that his entire paycheck gets eaten by childcare. You can read the full story here:

Be sure to check out Insider’s additional reporting on Capitol Hill workplace issues:

Do you have a tip about Capitol Hill workplace issues to share? Bad bosses, toxic offices, or questionable behavior toward congressional staffers? Email [email protected]com, or message 1-202-567-7343 on Signal, and we’ll keep you anonymous.

 



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