Examine the viability of updating the staff payroll system with the goal of transitioning from monthly to semimonthly pay.

As the Committee examined issues related to congressional staff pay, Members and Committee staff determined that an ongoing problem for younger and lower-level staff is the monthly pay schedule. Previous legislation to address this problem failed to bring the institution in line with the Senate and other federal employee pay schedules. As a result, some staff continue to struggle to meet monthly financial obligations.

Recent research has found that many workers struggle to make ends meet when faced with financial emergencies. A 2018 report from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve found that 40 percent of adults in the U.S. do not have enough savings on hand to cover a $400.00 emergency.[127] Similarly, CareerBuilder found in 2017 that 78 percent of workers in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck.[128] For workers who are paid monthly, unexpected financial emergencies can be even more challenging.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that among private businesses, “biweekly is the most common length of pay period, with 36.5 percent of U.S. private businesses paying their employees every 2 weeks. Weekly pay periods are almost as common, with 32.4 percent of private businesses paying employees each week. Semimonthly and monthly pay frequencies are less common.”[129]

The Committee recommends examining the viability of updating the staff payroll system with the goal of transitioning from monthly to semimonthly pay. Specifically, the Committee recommends that the CAO conduct a review of the costs and logistics of changing the House payroll system from a monthly to semimonthly schedule. Following the review, the House should align with the rest of the federal government’s payroll practices and update its pay schedule to address the financial concerns of congressional staff.

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