Senate Staff Dependent on Lobbying

On Thursday, May 19th the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the FY2017 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. However, unlike the amendment that was passed in the House, the Senate Bill did not address raising salaries for the chamber’s staff. The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment that would “provide an additional $8.3 million to the Members Representational Allowance account, which funds official office expenses including staff, mail and travel. The provision would give each member’s office an additional $18,821 that members could use to raise their staff salaries. Lawmakers backing the proposal lamented the constant turnover of personnel leaving for better paying opportunities,” reports Roll Call.

As a result of the Senate’s failure to address the raising of staff salaries, Vox argues that “staff turnover will remain high, and that the staffers who inform and advise the senators on policy will remain younger and more inexperienced than private lobbyists, and will be stretched far too thin to do much of their own research. This means that the staffers will remain heavily dependent on lobbyists to explain policy to them, to give them ideas for legislation, to write bills for them and get co-sponsors for those bills, and to draft talking points for senators’ letters, op-eds, and speeches.”

In response to the approval of funding, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), chair of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee said, “As the Appropriations Committee continues its consideration of each subcommittee bill, I am pleased to present a bill that is bipartisan and fiscally responsible.  In it, we seek to provide resources that enable the Legislative Branch of the government to do its job for the American people, and ensure the safety and security of the thousands of men and women who work in and visit our Capitol Complex every day,” according to a Appropriations Committee press release.

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