Boehner and Pelosi Agree: Overtime for Their Aides

Boehner and Pelosi will both overtime for their aides at the new Dept. of Labor threshold, when finalized in 2016. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agree on one aspect of the new overtime provisions: More of their own aides will be eligible for extra pay when the new criteria issued by the Department of Labor are finalized, likely in early 2016.  

Pelosi's office already paid overtime at the annual salary threshold of $50,000, and will use the new $50,440 annual salary threshold in 2016. A spokeswoman for Boehner said his office "will work to adopt the new criteria when finalized by the Department of Labor." The office of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., will comply with the new threshold, according to his spokesman. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., did not respond to several requests for comment.  

Experts: Congress Under Pressure on Overtime Rules

Late night on Capitol Hill? Experts think Congress may bow to pressure to pay overtime. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Workplace and labor law experts are predicting Congress will bow to external pressures and implement new overtime regulations, including the $50,440 annual salary threshold.  

The reason is that the Congressional Accountability Act, the legislation that governs Congress’ own workplace, was designed to keep pace with private sector employment laws, says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute and a former Hill staffer.  

Congress' Overtime Rules Are From 1970s

Congress has let overtime provisions remain as "pending" for several years.  (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congress has gone 11 years without implementing changes to the income thresholds for paying staffers overtime, and the overtime standards in practice today on Capitol Hill are so antiquated they date back to 1975.  

In short, that means the annual salary one can make in Congress before being eligible for overtime is $155 a week, or about $8,060 a year. That's a far cry from the Labor Department's proposed threshold annual salary of $50,440, and still dramatically lower than the $23,660 income threshold the Labor Department adopted in 2004.  

The Best Member of Congress for Your Job

A "focused and driven" member of Congress: Then-Sen. Barack Obama talks to media in his temporary office space in the basement of the Dirksen Senate Office in 2005. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Best job ever? Maybe, but how valuable could a job be without a promotion in sight? And what happens if another office comes a-courting, with a hefty raise attached? Hill Navigator discusses.

Half of Capitol Hill Staff Could Qualify for New Overtime Rules

The workplace that never sleeps: Half of Capitol Hill staff are under the new overtime threshold. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Nearly half of Capitol Hill staffers could qualify for overtime pay under the new Obama administration overtime rules to move the threshold to $50,440. Whether the new rules will apply to staffers is an open question for Congress.  

According to a custom report produced for CQ Roll Call by LegiStorm, 5,617 staffers, or 43 percent, are making less than $50,440 annually. The report analyzed 13,092 Capitol Hill staffers who work in committee, leadership and personal offices of the House and Senate and adjusted for anomalies, which include staffers who leave midway through a fiscal quarter and those paid out for vacation days.  

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."  

Student Loan Payments, With Strings Attached

Is there a hard-working staff assistant in your office who deserves a raise? What happens when the office offers student-loan repayments instead? (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Student Loan Repayment Program can be a financial boon to many Capitol Hill staffers. But what happens when an office offers loan payments in lieu of a raise? Hill Navigator discusses.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Staff on Chopping Block

The public service loan forgiveness program, which provides incentives for public service, may be facing cuts in this year's budget. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of the more generous benefits for congressional staffers might be on the chopping block in this year’s budget. The House and Senate budgets include cuts for education, employment and training, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The program forgives all federally backed student loans for those working for 10 cumulative years in public service — including time spent on Capitol Hill.  

Both the House and Senate budgets would cut the subsidy that allows people to not pay interest while they’re in undergraduate studies and for six months after. The Student Loan Repayment Program , which authorizes the House and Senate and select federal agencies to pay back student loans, would not be affected. The budget conference committee started meetings this week to work out the differences between the chambers' two versions. It’s not clear how many current and former Hill staffers would be affected by discontinuing the forgiveness program, which was was started in 2007. Those eligible would begin receiving their full forgiveness in 2017. Any changes are not likely to affect those already enrolled, but would affect future graduates pursuing public service.  

Hill Staffer Student Loan Perk Comes With Caveats

Working on Capitol Hill may help shoulder some of that mounting student loan debt. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Have student loans and want a $10,000 raise? The Student Loan Repayment Program, offered through both the House and Senate, can shoulder the student loan burden for up to $10,000 per staff member per year.  

The funds come from a central account administered by the House Chief Administrative Officer and the secretary of the Senate — not from the participating office or committee budget. So a member of Congress looking to give staffers a financial boost without dipping deeper into their Members’ Representational Allowance can easily take advantage. But there are several limits, both from the program and the offices, that restrict the amount of repayment, as well as which staffers can take advantage of the program. Interns are not eligible, nor are part-time or temporary workers, even those who are paid. Only full-time staffers are eligible.  

Unloved and Underpaid in a Home-State Office

Thinking of leaving D.C. for your home state? Hill Navigator discusses. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s no secret Capitol Hill staffers are underpaid compared to their private-sector counterparts. But what if you’re underpaid compared to the rest of Capitol Hill? When is it time to find work in another office? Hill Navigator discusses.