New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vowed to pay her congressional interns at least $15 per hour Tuesday.
“Time to walk the walk,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns. We will be one of them.”
The tweet came after her chief of staff told The Washington Post that she would pay her interns at $15 per hour after calling on lawmakers to increase pay for their staff during her campaign.
Her tweet cited a post from The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein, who noted that just 8 percent of House Republicans and 4 percent of House Democrats pay their interns anything. That study found that 51 percent of Senate Republicans and 31 percent of Senate Democrats pay their interns.
"This is a disgrace. Congress of ALL places should raise [Members' Representational Allowances] so we can pay staff an actual DC living wage," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Monday.
“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility.’ "
Congress has already made funds for interns available:
“A mini-spending package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in September included new funding for members of Congress to draw on to pay their interns,” NBC News reported. “The 2019 Legislative Branch bill includes $8.8 million for the paid internships in the House, allowing for up to $20,000 per calendar year for each House member to pay their interns. The bill, meanwhile, allocates $5 million for paid internships in the Senate.”
Twitter praises AOC:
“Thank you for doing this,” tweeted singer John Legend. “Unpaid internships make it so only kids with means and privilege get the valuable experience.”
“I think most people would be surprised to hear how few in Congress pay their interns,” wrote Senate staffer Tom Will. “I can count on one hand who does. The more progressive officials who speak about low wages likely have unpaid interns helping prepare those speeches, bills & taking calls.”
“Paying interns levels the playing field,” another Twitter user wrote. “Too many kids cannot afford to enter the halls of Congress without a pay. Only those with wealthy parents can afford this perk.”