While paying interns is a start, the report argues they need to be paid more. The average intern pay was $1,986.75 in the Senate and $1,612.53 in the House, for stints that normally run five and seven weeks, respectively. Monthly rent for a barebones studio apartment in D.C. alone can run $1,600, leaving no money for other costs.
While the House has already increased the intern pay allotments to $25,000 per office and loosened some of the rules around how the money can be spent — allowing some of it to go to district office interns — Vera said more needs to be done. The congressional stipends should at least be competitive with what private groups like the CHCI provide: $3,125 for a summer, plus housing and travel to D.C. Vera also wants congressional committees to get intern pay allotments — currently, it’s just the personal and leadership offices that can use the fund.
Congress also needs to step up its efforts to track demographic data, Jones said: “The issue really here is about transparency and how Congress operates.”
“That is what really distinguishes Congress from other types of workplaces and allows it to be white-dominated,” he said, noting that lawmakers force federal agencies to track employees’ demographic data but exempted themselves from the same requirements.
That should change, thanks to an amendment California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar added to last year’s spending omnibus directing the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer to track intern demographics and pay information.