A new study examining congressional interns’ pay reveals Democratic Party members of Congress are much less likely to pay their interns than Republicans are, despite the many claims made by Democrats in recent years about the need for businesses to pay “their fair share.”
The study — issued by Pay Our Interns, a “bipartisan, non-profit organization that advocates for an increase in the amount of paid internships within our government, for-profit, and nonprofit sector” — found only 3.6 percent of Democrats in the House of Representatives pay their interns, less than half the percentage of Republican House offices (8 percent). Further, 51 percent of Republican Senate offices pay interns, 20 percentage points higher than their Democratic Senate counterparts (31 percent).
According to the study, congressional interns must pay roughly $6,000 in costs related to living in the expensive Washington, D.C., area to serve members of Congress, making it extremely difficult for lower-income Americans, no matter how talented, to pursue a congressional internship.
“The cost of interning on the Hill in unpaid positions diminishes the chances for students of color and low-income students to access the intern-to-staffer pipeline, but paid positions help offset the lack of diversity,” the authors wrote.
The authors note many full-time congressional staff positions, especially entry-level jobs, require having previously served as a congressional intern.
The study comes as Democrats across the country have successfully implemented laws at the local and state levels mandating a higher minimum wage for workers. On Friday, Minneapolis, a city dominated by the Democratic Party, became among the first cities to approve a $15 minimum wage, which will go into effect fully in July 2024.
In April, Democrats, led by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), proposed legislation that would have mandated a $15 minimum wage for all federal workers, a bill that was quickly dismissed by the Republican majority.
"Democrats like to say, ‘Well, you know, [interns are] getting paid with knowing that [they are] making a difference; Republicans have no illusions that people should get paid for their work," Carlos Mark Vera, a co-author of the Pay Our Interns study, said to the Washington Examiner.