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Congress Grapples with Paying Hill Staff Under Proposed Overtime Rule

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Congress Grapples with Paying Hill Staff Under Proposed Overtime Rule

February 29, 2016
On February 17, Bloomberg BNA published an article titled, "Overtime Rule Stumps Congress on Hill Staffers' Pay." Congress members rely on their staffers for a wide range of responsibilities, from providing in-depth subject matter expertise, to fielding constituents' emails, calls, and visits, to managing schedules. Hill staffers are generally bright and motivated, and often work long hours. Many staffers are currently exempt from minimum wage and overtime protections within the Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they may work past 40 hours in a week without being owed additional wages beyond their base salaries. That may change when the final overtime exemption rule comes out. 
 
According to the Bloomberg BNA article, some House members are "freaking out" about how they will meet the rule's requirements. Recent years have brought a reduction to the amount of money each office has allocated for staff salaries, making it already more difficult to retain staff that are willing to work long hours for lower pay than they could get elsewhere. The Senate side has more room in the budget for staff salaries, making the fallout of a final rule that sets the threshold as high as the $50,440 that has been proposed potentially more disastrous for Representatives. 
 
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), as of FY 2013 the median annual pay of several common staff positions falls below the proposed threshold. For instance, staff assistants ($35,501), legislative correspondents ($38,052), schedulers ($48,199), legislative assistants ($48,622) and field representatives ($49,500 per year) all typically earned below the DOL's proposed $50,440 to qualify for exemption from overtime pay.