Lawmakers Call on Congress to Pay Interns Amid Calls to Diversify Staff

Beatrice Peterson, ABC News, March 18, 2019

As the new freshman class of Congress makes history as the most diverse class in the history of Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling on colleagues to pay the intern class on Capitol Hill.

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The non-profit bipartisan group Pay Our Interns, which pushed the effort for intern pay, is now working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push for greater diversity with the halls of Congress.

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Pay Our Interns co-founder Guillermo Creamer told ABC News his group plans on traveling across the country over the next six weeks, targeting historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions’ “Reflect Us” campaign. {snip}

In 2016, then-Speaker Paul Ryan drew criticisms for posting a selfie with House Republican intern class which lacked diversity. Rep Barbara Lee blasted Ryan saying “there‚Äôs no excuse for not having diverse staff & interns.”

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Although Pay Our Interns is pushing for the diversity of the internship class, Creamer says he believes it is a starting point to diversifying staff on the hill. “Workforce is a pipeline, internships are an entry point.”

According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found in the last Congress, people of color accounted for 13.7 percent of senior staffers in the House. Since the new class takeover in January people of color now account for 22.1 percent of senior staff in offices for newly elected members of the House.

Pressley agreed that internships are a pipeline, urging her colleagues to diversify their ranks.”We need to diversify this pipeline, make sure that more people have an opportunity to learn the inner workings of government.”

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