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Overtime Pay Not Likely for Congressional Staff

Hill staffers may work all hours, but they won't see overtime pay anytime soon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama may be signing overtime rules into place for nearly 5 million workers, but those beneficiaries aren't likely to include Capitol Hill staffers.  

The legislative branch, which includes Capitol Hill staff and related agencies, have long been governed by their own workplace rules. The Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 provides some workplace protections for Hill staff, including allowing time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act and preventing certain workplace discrimination on the basis of race, age or sexual orientation. But unless Congress takes proactive action to amend the CAA, Hill staffers making under $50,440 will not be seeing overtime into their long work weeks. On a call with reporters, White House Domestic Policy Council Chief Cecilia Munoz said the Office of Personnel Management (which oversees the executive branch workers) typically updates its rules to match federal labor regulations governing private sector workers. She said the White House looks forward to seeing the new overtime rules apply "across the workforce, including in the federal government."  

However, the offices that oversee employment issues in the House and Senate are not yet forthcoming on how the overtime rules would be applied, if at all. The Senate Chief Counsel for Employment, which counsels Senate offices on overtime issues, claimed it “had nothing to say on the matter,” going so far as to hang up the phone. At press time, the Office of Compliance and the House Employment Counsel was not able to provide a response on how the new overtime rules would affect congressional staff.  

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was quick to applaud Obama’s ruling, saying, “The 40 hour work-week is the cornerstone of middle-class life in America. These renewed overtime pay protections reaffirm America's respect for a full day's work. They will ensure that workers in every field and every industry are afforded the respect of wages that recognize the hard, long hours that so many give their companies.”  

“Every field,” however, still seems to exclude the hardworking congressional staff.  However, Pelosi staffers stand to benefit from the new ruling. According to a spokesman, the California Democrat will raise the overtime compensation caps in both her leadership and personal offices to $50,440 next year, from her current cap of $50,000.  

Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.

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