Daily Labor Report®

Some Congressional Internships Stay Unpaid (1)

Feb. 8, 2019, 11:16 AMUpdated: Feb. 8, 2019, 6:06 PM

The House Administration Committee will have to provide guidance before some congressional offices can offer paid internships as part of an appropriations package signed into law last year, according to the Pay Our Interns advocacy group.

The group said in a statement that they’ve been alerted via emails and social media about Hill unpaid internship postings, adding that “what many are not aware of, is that without proper House Administration guidelines, House offices do not have access to the newly created fund.”

“There is this misconception that when the funding was signed into law that the funds would be made available immediately,” Carlos Mark Vera, a former unpaid intern in Congress, told Bloomberg Law. “That was the case in the Senate but not in the House. There are some who assumed they would be getting paid and that has not happened.” Vera started Pay Our Interns.

A spokeswoman for Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the issue appears to be “House-specific,” adding that “Senate offices have access to these funds and the Rules Committee has not been made aware of any issues.”

This claim of postings for unpaid slots comes just months after President Donald Trump signed an appropriations package into law that included a provision allowing for $8.8 million to pay House interns and $5 million for Senate interns. This gives each House office $20,000 to pay interns, and each Senate office $50,000 per office. This which won’t completely end all unpaid internships on Capitol Hill, supporters have said.

A spokesman for House Administration Committee Chairman Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) confirmed that the issue is tied to the slow formation of the administrative panel in the new Congress.

“The Committee on House Administration has not yet been organized and as such cannot provide guidance on intern pay,” spokesman Peter Whippy said Feb. 6. “Once organized, the Committee intends to issue the appropriate guidance on intern pay as promptly as possible.”

The issue wasn’t addressed during the committee’s Feb. 7 meeting, Whippy added in a later e-mail.

Capitol Hill internships have largely been unpaid positions over the years. Supporters of the new law say it will add more diversity to the intern rolls. It’s often difficult for students and younger workers to take the temporary jobs without pay, the supporters say.

The lack of guidance from the House Administration committee hasn’t halted all opportunities for paid internships on the Hill. Individual congressional offices can carve out funds from their budgets, which provide funds for office staffing, officials have said.

The new dedicated funds will keep some offices from having to dip into budgets for paying the temporary staffers, Vera said.

(Updated to include additional reporting.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at trichardson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Cynthia Harasty at charasty@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

To read more articles log in. To learn more about a subscription click here.