Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Will Pay Interns ‘At Least’ $15 an Hour

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already shaking up Washington and making headlines. This time, Ocasio-Cortez made waves when she announced she plans to pay her interns a livable wage.

That her future interns’ hourly wage made the news should tell you something about how much interns earn on Capitol Hill. Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, told Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein the Congresswoman will pay her interns “at least” $15 an hour. It’s a significant increase over the typical earnings for a congressional intern, which is a whopping $0 an hour. The only other member of Congress offering $15 an hour is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Only 3.6 percent of House Democrats pay their interns anything at all, a fact that Ocasio-Cortez is not afraid to call them out on.

House Republicans are slightly less stingy, with 8 percent paying their interns. In the Senate, far more interns get paid, with 51 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats offering paid internships. Still, that doesn’t mean those interns make enough to support themselves. Some have to work additional part-time jobs to afford living in Washington D.C. while completing their internships.

Ocasio-Cortez said this became clear to her when she was eating out at a local DC “dive-spot”, where several of the staff members are currently working in congressional offices. They cannot afford to do so without a second job.

“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns and underpaid overworked staff just [because] Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility,’” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “If that’s the case, they can cut down on staff to pay them well. Or raise the MRA [Members' Representational Allowances].”

This issue earned the spotlight this week as it became clear just how hypocritical Congresspeople are when it comes to paying their interns.

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer posted a job listing for a full-time unpaid intern. Particularly grating is the fact that Schumer himself started out as congressional intern 40 years ago and earned what would today be $1,800 a month.

The money is there’ Schumer’s office just didn’t plan on putting it to use. In October, $65,000 was set aside to pay interns for both Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has also come under fire for not paying interns. After intense criticism, Schumer’s team stated that the job posting was “was made in error. Starting in January, Senator Schumer’s office will offer a stipend to eligible interns.”

Photo Credit: Corey Torpie

44 comments

Brian F
Brian F2 days ago

Eric Lees Ocasio Cortez is a hero who against all odds, beat a corrupt corporate Democrat, and spent only $300,000 compared to the millions her corrupt corporate Democratic establishment challenger spent. Now Ocasio Cortez is trying to have all the corrupt corporate establishment Democrats like Joe Manchin who is a crook like the Republicans, kicked out of the party. We need more progressives like Ocasio Cortez in the Democratic party. Instead of criticizing her, you should support her and her heroic actions.

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees2 days ago

Um ok great for her and her interns. What's the cost of living in DC?

She still fails at basic economics.

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Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins3 days ago

That's $1.40 more than I make an hour.

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Debbi W
Debbi W3 days ago

Good for her! Anyone working a 40+ hr. week should be able to support themselves with that job. Most elitists have had little to no experience with how people deal with the cost of living while earning $8 or $9/hr. Living in a large city on $15/hr will be challenging. I don't see how congressional aids earning $15/hr can afford to live in D.C. , yet the repugs want to cut any program that might help them, increase their taxes, cut their chance of ever being able to afford healthcare, all so their billionaire buddies can continue raping them financially.

Thank you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for setting a new standard.

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Brian F
Brian F3 days ago

Ocasio Cortez is a hero who is confronting corrupt corporate establishment Democrats like Joe Manchin who took $150,000 from our dirty fossil fuel industry. This is why the corrupt corporate establishment Democrats fear her. Republicans also fear her because she is criticizing their corruption also. If all the Democrats were like Ocasio Cortez, the Democrats would beat the Republicans in the next election, and get rid of this crook Trump.

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Brian F
Brian F3 days ago

Shelly w You're just scared of Ocasio Cortez because she is progressive and supports Medicare for all, free colleges, a $15.00 minimum wage, raising taxes on the rich, and marijuana legalization. Ocasio Cortez is right about the issues, and you don't want the changes that most Americans support. We get it. That's why you are a Republican. It's because all you care about is cutting taxes for the rich, who have made record profits, while most people live in poverty.

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Mary B
Mary B3 days ago

SHELLY W, you think your perception is truth but it's not. And your excuses for not having a living minimum wage is the same old right wing stuff they always push. Plenty of businesses don't do that, they keep their workers on and if their business can't survive,without exploiting the workers then it's call free markets. Your assumption that taxes are 'other peoples money' is also strange. Money is only 'yours' until you spend it, which is the whole point of having it. This other peoples money is a guilt trip. And you're calling Ms Ocasio-Cortez dangerous compared to Trump ? Is that who you voted for ?

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Shelley w
Shelley w4 days ago

Ocasio-Cortez is dangerous because she constantly makes statements that are not based on any knowledge of economics, history or politics. Her platform is giving away other people's money without a clue as to the consequences to society. Her most recent gaffe is misquoting and misinterpreting the constitution when she was hinting that she will run for president. She is earning 170,000 dollars and is laughing all the way to the bank. The top 5 happiest countries in the world including denmark and norway do not have a minimuum wage. In the Trump economy there is no need for a minimum wage because businesses are offering high wages to attract job applicants. Minimum wage jobs are supposed to be a stepping stone to better jobs by giving work experience. Each time the minimum wage is hiked, small businesses which create the most employment overall must fire employees or cut their hours. This is only a black and white issue to the ill-informed and ignorant.

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Brian F
Brian F4 days ago

We need Medicare for all not the ACA, which is a horrible Republican healthcare plan.

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Julie W
Julie W4 days ago

Setting a good example. Terrific!

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