New York Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is pushing hard on her demands that Congress pay its staffers and interns a living wage.
The Democrat, who has vowed to pay her interns at least $15 an hour, shared her concerns Tuesday in response to a viral tweet pointing out how lawmakers seeking unpaid interns are excluding everyone but those rich enough to work for free.
Her remarks on Tuesday follow similar concerns she raised the day before when she met Capitol Hill staffers and interns who said they were working second jobs at a restaurant to make end’s meet.
“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff” to help carry the workload, she wrote.
A study last year by the advocacy group Pay Our Interns found that only 51 percent of Republican senators offer paid internships and just 31 percent of Democrats do. Things are much worse over in the House, where just 8 percent of Republican interns are paid and a measly 3.6 percent of Democrats interns are.
The Democrats have begun to make strides on this issue elsewhere, however. Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee began paying its interns, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it would do so too after its unpaid workers organized a joint complaint.
Members of Congress who choose not to pay their interns don’t have much of an excuse going forward. In September, Congress approved a spending bill that set aside nearly $14 million for lawmakers to pay their interns, including $8.8 million for the House and $5 million for the Senate.
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