February 19, 2016
Whether the Labor Department's proposed overtime rule is applied to Congress remains to be seen, but some Democratic members of Congress do not know if they can afford to compensate staffers accordingly due to steep cuts in their office budgets. According to Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), "We don't have a set-hour kind of situation here; some kids work 12, 14, 16 hours a day, weekends, and I feel terrible that I cannot afford to give raises to the staff." Rep. Hastings, a senior member of the House Rules Committee, also noted that with the reduction of office budgets over the past four years, "I don't see how we could pay overtime" for the "17 or 18 people that each of us is allowed to have—that's problematic for me." Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) also noted that some members may have to "reduce the size of their staff" because of the proposed rule. Separately, a coalition of associations representing public sector employers has asked Congress to request the Labor Department reconsider its proposed overtime rule because the proposed salary level of $50,000 "would have significant adverse consequences on public sector employers," and the "increased costs would require either an increase in taxes, a reduction in both public services and employee benefits, or both." The coalition letter noted that state and local government budgets "are still recovering from the last recession," and indexing the salary level threshold "will put constant pressure on public sector budgets—particularly during future economic downturns."