In 2018, Congress allocated $13.8 million for members to buck the longstanding practice of not paying congressional interns. Since then, an analysis from earlier this year indicates that over 90 percent of Congress members began paying at least one of their interns — but conservative Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer didn’t follow the trend.
Over the weekend, the New Jersey lawmaker promoted a job posting for a spring internship in his office. The intern would work 45 hours per week while Congress is in session and 40 hours per week when it isn’t, with unspecified accommodations for class hours. According to the posting, the intern’s responsibilities would include busy work like responding to phone calls and letters, as well as running errands. They would also be required to attend hearings and research legislation.
As compensation for this supposedly vital work, the student intern — required to live in Washington, D.C. — would receive “invaluable work experience” but no pay, according to the posting.
Due to specifically allocated funding, most congressional offices offer compensation for their interns, though it is often incredibly paltry. Although House members get $25,000 to pay their interns, many offices have several interns at once. According to Pay Our Interns, the average stipend in 2018 was a mere $1,613 in the House.
Even members of the House like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) have recognized that this is nowhere near enough pay. As a result of budget cuts, the pot for congressional staff pay is quite low, creating disparities in who can access a job in Congress.
Even before Congress allocated the funds specifically for interns, some members of Congress — like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) — managed to make it work. Now, with money allocated specifically for this purpose, it’s unclear why Gottheimer would choose not to utilize this funding in a departure from the vast majority of his colleagues.
The New Jersey lawmaker was slammed for the job posting on social media and for blocking accounts that pointed out that the position was unpaid. Gottheimer has since deleted the tweet promoting the internship.
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) November 28, 2021
According to OpenSecrets, Gottheimer is worth nearly $9 million as of 2018 — and even though he refuses to pay his staff, he seems to be looking for ways to boost his own personal wealth constantly.
Gottheimer fought hard for the lifting of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap, a proposal that is included in the Build Back Better Act. Some analyses conclude that the SALT cap lifting would provide a tax cut for millionaires — including Gottheimer, notes the Daily Poster, who pays more than $10,000 in property taxes that could be deducted from his federal taxes under the proposal.
Over the past months, Gottheimer has opposed many proposals that would help uplift the working class, garnering a reputation akin to that of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Earlier this year, Gottheimer was part of a group of conservative Democrats who waged the initial push to slash the reconciliation bill and threaten its passage, even though the bill includes a number of social and climate spending proposals that other Democrats have hailed as vital.