Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that the House would raise the maximum annual pay rate for Capitol Hill aides, in a long-awaited move intended to help recruit and retain congressional staffers.
In a letter to lawmakers, Ms. Pelosi said that House aides could now earn up to $199,300 in an effort to shore up “the outstanding and diverse talent that we need.” The change marks the first time that a congressional aide can receive a salary greater than a lawmaker: An average member of Congress receives an annual salary of $174,000.
“A key priority for strengthening the Congress so that it can best serve the American people is ensuring that our offices and committees have access to the best talent in America,” Ms. Pelosi said.
Importantly, if the change is not accompanied by an attendant increase in the budgets congressional offices and committees are given each year to pay their aides, any increases to senior staff salaries could ultimately whittle down the salaries of more junior aides.
But lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who have long argued that congressional aides should be paid incomes more commensurate with private-sector jobs in order to recruit the best and most diverse talent, hailed the decision as a crucial step in the right direction.
“Empowering congressional staff through increased pay and improved benefits will allow our body to better serve the American people with diverse and talented employees,” said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, who agitated for the change in policy for years.
Senate aides have also been subject to the same pay cap as their House counterparts, but are unaffected by Ms. Pelosi’s announcement. Much of the public debate over the issue has been concentrated in the House, rather than the Senate.