(March 14) – Members of Congress and their staff know shockingly little about
the committee staffers that make Congress function. As a new Congress ramps up
its legislative and oversight functions, understanding how to recruit and
retain expert, long-term and diverse staff will be crucial for effective
policymaking and the maintenance of a well-run legislative branch for both
chambers and both parties. 

In a new policy report, R Street Institute Governance Project Senior Fellow Casey Burgat and Research Assistant Ryan Dukeman examine Congress from the committee-staff level. They explore data from all 45 House and Senate committees to create the first comprehensive committee-by-committee study of the tenure, pay and gender balance of committee staffs.

report presents the most comprehensive and accessible database on human capital
and other staffing trends in Congress’ committees, and it will be a valuable
resource for congressional reformers on the Hill, in think tank and policy
spheres, and in academia. 

particular, the authors highlight data that reflects the gender pay gap in
Congress—in each chamber, and every committee—showing the vastly different
experiences that men and women have on the Hill, even when performing the same
job. Notably, men outnumber women in Senate committee staff by a staggering 12
percentage points, and male staffers on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee earned
nearly 35 percent more than their female counterparts in 2017. 

the public posturing of certain members who want to reassert the legislative
branch’s policymaking role, the fastest-growing staffing assignment in
congressional committees is communications, even in areas like foreign policy.
This reflects the growing sense that an important part of Congress’ function is
the shaping of public debate for partisan messaging ends. 

authors add, “As the size and complexity of the federal government has
continued to grow, Congress has deprioritized spending within the offices most
responsible for legislating and conducting Executive Branch

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