WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Adam Smith has reintroduced the House Intern Pay Act, legislation to set aside funds so that interns in each congressional office can be paid a livable wage.
“For Congressional offices to represent the diverse interests of their constituents, it is important that everyone has the opportunity to engage in the legislative process and civic service,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Paid internships help to bring a diversity of ideas and backgrounds to both the Washington, D.C. and local district offices, and expand equality of opportunity for all to participate in our democracy.”
Every year, hundreds of students and recent graduates come to Capitol Hill seeking to learn about and serve in Congress. In the past, many young people have had to begin their careers in policy and public service in unpaid internship positions. For many others, working and interning without pay is simply not possible. Unpaid internships severely limit the opportunities available to those who cannot afford to work for free.
The House Intern Pay Act would help alleviate this problem by allowing interns in each Members’, Delegates’, and Resident Commissioner’s congressional office in the House of Representatives to receive a livable wage. Specifically, this bill permanently authorizes amounts to fund a full-time, year-round internship position in each Member’s Capitol Hill or district congressional office at a rate of $15 per hour for the first year of enactment. The rate of intern will increase in tandem with percentage increases in Consumer Price Index each year thereafter.
Section 120 of the Legislative Branch Appropriations legislation for Fiscal Year 2019 provides $20,000 per year to pay an intern in each House Member’s Washington, DC office. Translating to a wage of approximately $9.62 per hour (for a 40 hour per week intern position), it is laudable that the House of Representative has taken this important first step to ensure that congressional interns receive pay for their work.
We must now permanently authorize the intern pay allowance, ensure that interns are paid a sustainable living wage, and allow funds for intern compensation to be used to pay interns in either Members’ Washington, D.C. or district offices. Doing so will help to make congressional internships an attractive and feasible option for a more diverse pool of applicants. Congress must do its part to ensure that a person’s means is not a barrier to civic engagement and public service.
This legislation is cosponsored by the following Members of Congress: Don Beyer (VA-8), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Jim McGovern (MA-2), Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Ed Case (HI-1), Chuy Garcia (IL-4), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Hank Johnson (D-4), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Anthony Brown (MD-4), Gilbert Cisneros (CA-39), Terri Sewell (AL-7), David Trone (MD-6), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Mary Scanlon (PA-5), Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Andy Levin (MI-9), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Donna Shalala (FL-27), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12).