First Branch Forecast

Don’t Slash Hill Staff Pay Says Left-Right Coalition

There’s a growing effort this appropriations season to decrease Member Representational Allowance (MRA) funds, which would inevitably result in lower pay for congressional staff, something a new coalition led by Demand Progress is fighting.

Today, Demand Progress sent a bipartisan letter to leadership on the House Committee on Appropriations, urging them to retain MRA funding levels to the FY23 amount.

Why? Low staffer pay fuels the revolving door and drives a high turnover rate on Capitol Hill —  a staff exodus hit a 20-year high in 2021. When Congress loses institutional knowledge like that, it’s less able to govern and conduct oversight. It’s more likely to let lobbyists sway policy.

“Cutting MRAs is a horrible return on investment for the Legislative branch. For decades, Congress underpaid its own staff, self-inflicting a wound of diminished capacity, which undercut its ability to oversee and rein in the federal government’s sprawling administrative bureaucracy,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress. “To retain expert staff and promote a strong workforce, it’s essential Congress pays its staff at least as much as their counterparts in the Executive branch and private sector.” 

Read the full letter here and below:

The Honorable Kay Granger
House Committee on Appropriations
H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mark Amodei
Chair House Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch
H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C., 20515

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations
H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Adriano Espaillat
Ranking Member
House Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch
H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C., 20515

Re: Support retaining House Member Resource Allocation funding for Fiscal Year 2024

Dear Chairs Granger and Amodei and Ranking Members DeLauro and Espaillat:

We urge the House of Representatives to retain funding levels for Members Representational Allowances (MRA) to its FY 2023 amount. Congress’s ability to effectively uphold its Article I responsibilities absolutely depends on the hard work of dedicated public servants. Members of Congress could not carry out their representational and policy making responsibilities without the support of staff. And that’s exactly why Congress needs to do the most to support them. Providing the same funding for the MRA as in FY 2023 will enable personal offices to recruit and retain highly qualified staff as well as instill confidence in the workforce that funding will not be decreased. 

Prior to the increases in the MRA made in FY 2022 and FY 2023, funding levels for personal and committee office staff were unsustainably low, which resulted in the highest staff turnover rate in over 20 years in 2021. A cut to the MRA would lead to a crisis for staff that work in the halls of Congress, not to mention the Members and committees that they support. Providing staff with appropriate compensation for their work and ensuring sufficient staff levels in offices are essential to retain expert staff and promote a strong workforce. 

A lack of adequate personal and committee office funding is a bipartisan problem, with lawmakers of both parties expressing support for funding increases. Several weeks ago, numerous House committee chairs and ranking members emphasized the need for higher operational budgets to attract and retain quality staff in the Committee on House Administration’s allotment hearing. Most committees requested increases between five and 10% of FY2024 budgets specifically for staffing needs.

There are many reasons why staff choose to leave Congress, but low pay and limited benefits consistently rank high on the list. Hill salaries are significantly lower than salaries in the executive branch and private sector. Furthermore, congressional staff salaries have not kept up with inflation. Since 2001, the chief of staff position is the only staff position in Member offices that has experienced salary growth in real dollars.

Congress’s long-running loss of staff capacity, particularly in committees, has severely undermined its ability to oversee and rein in the federal government’s sprawling administrative bureaucracy. Congress is only as strong as its staff. If cuts to the MRA are made in FY 2024, it will be much harder to recruit and retain the best, and Congress will suffer. As the nation faces unprecedented new levels of spending and debt, it is imperative that Congress invest in itself to preserve balance between the three branches, ensuring that our government remains accountable to the American people.

Thank you for your consideration. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this further. Please contact Taylor J. Swift, Senior Policy Advisor for Demand Progress at


American Family Voices

Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW)

College to Congress

Congressional Management Foundation

Demand Progress

Free Government Information

Issue One

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Judicial Watch

Media Alliance

NALEO Educational Fund

P Street

Pay Our Interns

Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

Social Security Works

Unite America

Kevin R. Kosar, American Enterprise Institute*

Robert Cook-Deegan, Arizona State University*

Justin Strekal, Better Organizing to Win Legalization*

Lorelei Kelly, Georgetown Democracy, Education + Service (GeoDES)*

Rick Shapiro, Strategic Assets Consulting*

J.D. Rackey, Sunwater Institute*

Kevin Esterling, University of California, Riverside*

*= Affiliations listed for identification purposes only. 

Cc: Members of the Appropriations Committee

Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

The post Don’t Slash Hill Staff Pay Says Left-Right Coalition appeared first on First Branch Forecast.

Powered by WPeMatico