Capitol Hill Staffing is Part of DC’s Problem


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One of the debates of this week in the press is over Capitol Hill staffing. Apparently the public thinks Congress is trying to give itself more staff, so some writers are saying they should just do it. The argument is pretty sound- we spend less on Congressional staffers than the K-Street firms spend on lobbyists. We expect a bunch of 20-somethings to be policy experts on several issues at a time, and expect them to staff a functional Congress.

Congress’ staffing situation is one of the reasons DC isn’t functional. Entry-level Congressional staff pay is too low, and the result is that the only people who can take them are the children of the rich and the extremely idealistic who are willing to live on Ramen every day. For the most part, it’s the children of wealthier people taking those jobs. This does not lead to a functional Congress, or one that makes a lot of sense to “average” America. It’s a huge part of DC’s problem.

To be clear, there are plenty of smart, functional people in DC. There is a steady supply of “Ameritocracy” there though. Paying Capitol Hill staffers better might attract a better, more functional pool though, and help make DC run better. God knows Congress could benefit from some functionality.

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