Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) claimed on Twitter Tuesday night that she will pay her interns a minimum of $15 an hour.
Time to walk the walk.
Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns. We will be one of them. https://t.co/BuKCDSai0K
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 5, 2018
“Time to walk the walk,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns. We will be one of them.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s message came after her chief of staff told a Washington Post reporter on Tuesday that Ocasio-Cortez will pay her interns a minimum of $15 an hour.
After meeting “several” Capitol Hill staff members working as restaurant waitstaff at a Washington, DC, restaurant, the self-described Democratic Socialist— who is jockeying for a seat on the House Financial Services Committee— sent out a tweet Monday saying it “is a disgrace” that congressional staffers do not make a “living wage”:
It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about “fiscal responsibility.”
If that’s the case, they can cut down on staff to pay them well. Or raise the MRA.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 3, 2018
“This is a disgrace. Congress of ALL places should raise [Members’ Representational Allowances] so we can pay staff an actual DC living wage,” she wrote.
“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility.’”
Congress, until recently, has historically provided unpaid internships in all but a few roles on Capitol Hill.
The nonprofit group Pay Our Interns released a report in 2017 that found that 51 percent of Senate Republicans paid their interns compared to 31 percent of Senate Democrats.
The percentages were even lower in the House, as only 8 percent of House Republicans opted to pay their interns compared to 3.6 percent of House Democrats.
Even though Ocasio-Cortez said she would pay her interns a $15 per hour minimum wage, the majority of her Democrat colleagues who supported a $15 minimum wage did not pay their interns in 2017.
Both the Senate and the House passed legislation in 2018 to set aside funding to pay interns starting in 2019, with the House appropriating $8 million toward it and the Senate setting aside $5 million.