WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — For years, the majority of congressional interns worked for free. However, that’s finally changing.
New legislation means each House office will get $20,000 and each Senate office roughly $50,000 annually to pay interns. The Washington Post estimates interns will earn about $1,800 each month.
An organization called College to Congress spent the last 18 months lobbying lawmakers for new funding and guidelines to provide pay for the interns.
Audrey Henson, the founder of College to Congress, was a former unpaid intern and is encouraged that Congress is providing money to support interns while they work at the Capitol.
“It’s incredibly white and affluent,” Henson said about the racial makeup of congressional offices. “And I think that everyone is realizing that if we want to change that, we have to start from the bottom.”
According to a report in the Washington Post, criticism surrounding the unpaid intern program centered around the fact the system disproportionately impacted minorities.
Before this measure went through, 90 percent of House offices did not pay interns, according to the non-profit Pay Our Interns. In the Senate, 51 percent of GOP offices and 31 percent of Democratic ones paid their interns, according to the research.
The overall price tag of the program is estimated to run $14 million.