Schatz-Murkowski Legislation To Pay Senate Interns Passes Congress, Set To Become Law

Legislation Sets Aside $5 Million for U.S. Senate Offices To Pay Their Interns

Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation authored by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would set aside $5 million for U.S. Senate offices to pay their interns. The funding, included in a spending deal passed by the Senate yesterday, will give Senate offices the resources to pay interns, who provide administrative support to nearly every Senate office year round. Senate internships are largely unpaid, making it financially difficult for many young people from around the country to move to Washington, D.C. to intern on Capitol Hill.

“This is a great step forward for our diversity efforts in Congress,” Senator Schatz said. “Internships are part of the pipeline for Senate staff, and most people can’t afford to work for free. With this funding, we can help more young people from all walks of life get their foot in the door, and make sure that Senate staff looks like the rest of the country.”

“I place a high value on welcoming young and inspired Alaskans to join my office every summer through my intern program. They come eager to work, learn, and in turn contribute to my office and the work of the U.S. Senate,” Senator Murkowski said. “While many internships on Capitol Hill are unpaid, I pay the interns in my summer program through our office budget, even while returning money to the Treasury each year. This legislation ensures other members have no excuse not to follow suit and give a small stipend to these temporary staff members who are dedicating their time to support our offices.”

Washington, DC ranks in the top five most expensive cities in North America, according a survey by the Economist. Data shows that the average rental in the nation’s capital costs $2,072 per month, while a rental in the Capitol Hill neighborhood is even higher.

In addition to Schatz and Murkowski, who have both offered paid internships prior to this legislation, the amendment was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen, (D-Md.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).