As college students enthusiastically apply for internships on Capitol Hill, they’ll be surprised to see how the intern pay is divided among party lines.
There was once a time when Republicans could argue against the minimum wage by stretching its logic to an extreme. “If a raise to $10 an hour is so great,” we could begin to ask, “then why not $20 an hour, or $100 an hour.” Democrats instead appear to have heard that argument and thought to themselves “great idea!”
Bernie Sanders is among the notable people in Congress pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage, and Elizabeth Warren ponders why the minimum wage isn’t $22 an hour today. There’s an attempt to make that policy in the Raise the Wage Act of 2017, which would increase the federal minimum wage by 107 percent, to $15 an hour. Not like it’ll pass, but Democrats will at least be able to score a few political points for themselves in whining about how Republicans “hate the poor” after the bill gets shot down (which is probably the real goal here).
They certainly aren’t actually all too concerned about what the minimum wage is – or they’d pay their interns more than zero dollars an hour.
As The Hill noted, a new Employment Policies Institute analysis shows that 95 percent of the House and Senate sponsors and co-sponsors hire interns for $0 an hour.
This “do as I say, not as I do” approach to the minimum wage is not new for Democrats in Congress. A previous analysis conducted two years ago by EPI found that 94 percent of the House and Senate co-sponsors of the 2015 bill to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour did not pay their interns. (Ditto for 96 percent of the co-sponsors of the 2013 “Fair Minimum Wage Act.”)
Ten members from both chambers offer some form of a stipend; the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is the only member who pays an hourly wage. However, Sanders’ office pays interns $12 an hour, short of his $15 demand from the private sector. (The full list of cosponsors and the compensation details of their internship programs are available here.
Many senators and representatives who are co-sponsors of the “Raise the Wage Act” note on their websites that participants will benefit in other ways besides a paycheck. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) website states the internship provides, “a unique learning experience” and “an inside look at the political process.” Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) website states the internship will provide, “A unique opportunity to learn about the functions of the U.S. House of Representatives…”
Working with Nancy Pelosi a “unique opportunity?” That’s something you literally couldn’t pay me to do.