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Happy Thursday morning.
Big House news: Speaker Nancy Pelosi will announce this morning that she’s setting a minimum salary for House staffers, a gigantic boon for a workforce that historically has been underpaid and overworked.
The new minimum annual salary for staffers is $45,000. It goes into effect on Sept. 1.
Here’s the letter to lawmakers, obtained exclusively by Punchbowl News. And here’s the key excerpt:
With a competitive minimum salary, the House will better be able to retain and recruit excellent, diverse talent. Doing so will open the doors to public service for those who may not have been able to afford to do so in the past. This is also an issue of fairness, as many of the youngest staffers working the longest hours often earn the lowest salaries.
The government funding legislation enacted in March included a 21 percent increase in the MRA for each office, which will more than cover this pay adjustment. It is highly encouraged that Members use this MRA increase to honor the committed work of your staff members.
This is just the latest step taken by Pelosi in recent months to try to make the House a better place to work and keep congressional aides from decamping to higher-paying jobs off the Hill. Last August, Pelosi decoupled House staffer pay and member pay, increasing the maximum House staffer salary to $199,300. Members’ pay is capped at $174,000.
That maximum annual rate for House staffers will now increase to $203,700 to match the Senate’s increase, Pelosi said in her letter this morning.
Pelosi was integral in getting the 21% boost in lawmakers’ office budgets – known as the Members’ Representational Allowance – included in the annual government funding bill this year.
Pelosi, along with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, pushed for the MRA increase during the government funding negotiations. Democratic leaders said they hoped the additional money for House offices would be used to bump up staff salaries.
“The government funding legislation enacted in March included a 21 percent increase in the MRA for each office, which will more than cover this pay adjustment,” Pelosi wrote this morning of the new salary floor. “It is highly encouraged that Members use this MRA increase to honor the committed work of your staff members.”
More big news: The House will also hold a vote next week on a resolution that allows House staffers to unionize. If enacted, the resolution would let House aides bargain over working conditions. But unionized staffers would be limited on the issues for which they may collectively bargain over. For example, they couldn’t negotiate for wages and benefits.
Benefits are determined by the House of Representatives as an institution. Allowing aides to bargain over specific benefits would require a new law. With Republicans opposed to the effort, it’s difficult to see anything passing the Senate.
Still, the boost in staffer pay, plus the ability to negotiate workplace conditions, is an enormous change for the House and those who work there. Unionization was permitted under the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act, but it hasn’t happened until now. Here’s more from Pelosi’s letter:
First: the House will vote next week on Congressman Andy Levin’s resolution recognizing Congressional workers’ right to organize. When the House passes this resolution, we will pave the way for staffers to join in union, if they so choose. Congressional staffers deserve the same fundamental rights and protections as workers all across the country, including the right to bargain collectively.
Also: Here’s a new White House announcement on “AM Forward,” a new initiative which is aimed at lowering “costs for American families by improving the competitiveness of America’s small-and-medium-sized manufacturers, creating and sustaining high-paying manufacturing jobs, and improving supply chain resilience through adoption of additive manufacturing.”
Beatty wants to be ambassador to the Bahamas. But the W.H. has a candidate already
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has privately lobbied the Biden administration to appoint her as U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, according to multiple sources familiar with the process.
Beatty sent a letter to the White House last month expressing her interest in the post, Hill and the White House sources said.
But a source familiar with the confirmation process told us the White House already has a candidate for the position who is working their way through the process.
Ouch. Beatty is a key player on Capitol Hill for the Biden administration. The CBC’s members have been staunch allies and defenders of President Joe Biden.
And Beatty played a key role in marshaling support for Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill last November, delivering the president a major win when he desperately needed it.
The ambassadorship to the Bahamas is a coveted post, oftentimes bestowed on top political supporters and friends of the president. For example, former President George W. Bush appointed J. Richard Blankenship, a close friend of his brother Jeb Bush. And former President Bill Clinton appointed Sid Williams, a businessman and the husband of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Tyler Levinson, a spokesman for Beatty, sent over this comment:
“I can assure you Congresswoman Beatty is fully committed to her roles as chair of the CBC and representative for Ohio’s 3rd congressional district.
“While she believes her future lies in Washington, she has had a long time interest in the Bahamas and just returned from meeting with their Prime Minister [Philip] Davis and other business and country leaders.
“She is honored to have so many people interested in seeing her serve as an Ambassador, but there is still much more for her to accomplish on Capitol Hill.”
We checked in with House Democrats who know Beatty and several confirmed her push for the ambassadorship. Others said they weren’t surprised by the move. It’s clear Beatty, 72, has been looking beyond Congress to see what else is out there, they said, since the sudden death of her husband, Otto Beatty Jr., last year. Beatty even joked about pursuing the ambassadorship in a Columbus Monthly profile in December.
Beatty is in her fifth term in the House, and she has a seat on the Financial Services Committee. Beatty also served for nearly a decade in the Ohio House of Representatives, where she was the first woman to be Democratic leader.
There hasn’t been a confirmed ambassador to the Bahamas since the Obama administration when Nicole Avant, the wife of Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, held the post.
For House Democrats there is a silver lining in the White House’s snub. Beatty’s Columbus-area House seat is a safe Democratic district, so there isn’t much political risk for House Democrats. But with her narrow majority, Speaker Nancy Pelosi can’t afford to lose a vote. Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) was just named lieutenant governor of the Empire State, which will trigger a special election there. Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas also recently resigned from the House.
Following Delgado’s formal exit, the House margin will be 220 Democrats to 209 Republicans, giving Pelosi a five-vote cushion.
→ Here’s a new ad from Jennifer Carnahan. She’s running for Congress in Minnesota to fill the seat of her late husband, Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.). Former President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed in this race. But Carnahan was the chair of the Minnesota GOP, and Trump shouted her out at a rally. The spot is running in Rochester and Mankato.
THE MONEY GAME
→ The Congressional Leadership Fund, the House GOP leadership-aligned super PAC, reported Thursday having $100 million in the bank after raising $8.8 million in the first 27 days of April.
In April, the super PAC got $3 million from Christopher and Jude Reyes of Reyes Holdings, a large food wholesaler. Arkansas billionaire Warren Stephens kicked in $1 million.
WANT MORE PUNCHBOWL NEWS?
Catch up on all of our past events in our new and improved events hub! Every conversation is waiting for you to rewatch and explore, including our interviews with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Commerce Sec. Gina Raimondo and more. Also, don’t forget to sign up to receive notifications about all upcoming Punchbowl News events.
11:10 a.m.: President Joe Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where he’ll fly to Cincinnati. Jen Psaki will brief on Air Force One. Biden will arrive at 1 p.m.
3 p.m.: Biden will meet with manufacturing leaders at United Performance Metals in Hamilton, Ohio.
3:45 p.m.: Biden will speak and call for Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act.
5:30 p.m.: Biden will leave Cincinnati for New Castle, Del. He will arrive at 6:55 p.m.
→ “Giuliani Pulls Out of Interview With Jan. 6 Committee,” by Luke Broadwater
→ “Draft Opinion Overturning Roe Raises a Question: Are More Precedents Next?” by Charlie Savage
→ “U.S. Intelligence Helped Ukraine Strike Russian Flagship, Officials Say,” by Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Julian Barnes
→ “Some Congressional Democrats Press Dallas Fed to Select Latino Leader,” by Michael S. Derby
→ “Stocks, Bonds Fall on Inflation Worries; Dollar Up,” by John Viljoen
→ “China Orders Government, State Firms to Dump Foreign PCs,” by Yanping Li and Yuan Gao
→ “Defenders inside Ukrainian steel mill refuse to surrender,” by Jon Gambrell in Lviv, Ukraine, and Cara Anna in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
→ “‘Roe’ under threat, California leans in as abortion refuge,” by Adam Beam in Sacramento
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