Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds Passage of Funding Bill for Legislative Branch

Washington D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, today applauded the passage of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Legislative Branch funding bill, which includes increases in Congressional staff pay and intern stipends, including a stipend program for interns from underrepresented backgrounds. Specifically, this program focuses on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other minority serving institutions (Predominantly Black Institution, Minority Serving Institutions, and Tribal colleges)  – an outcome of Congresswoman Lee’s efforts with Representative Alma Adams (D-NC).

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See Congresswoman Lee’s full remarks below:

I'm pleased that the fiscal '22 Leg Branch Appropriations bill includes many important provisions that I am very proud to support.

I thank the chairman for including a feasibility study to set up a stipend program to support interns from underrepresented backgrounds, including those who attend HBCUs, Tribal colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions.

Now, I know how cost-prohibitive a Congressional internship and job can be. The cost of living in the nation's capital makes it extremely difficult for young people from low-income communities and communities of color to participate in internship opportunities.

Just a personal story, very quickly, a few years ago in the day, I wanted to be an intern. I was in college, raising two small sons by myself. As a single mom, I really wanted to come to Washington, D.C. as an intern, but it was very difficult and so I received $1 an hour from a work-study program at my college, to come here to Washington D.C. to work for our beloved, the late Congressman, Ron Dellums. But, had I not had a family who supported me through this period, my life would have been on a different trajectory.

And so, these internships for young students of color, are extremely important and they need that support. So, it's unfortunate but, not a lot has changed since the day. So, I thank Chairman Ryan for making sure that we have this feasibility study and I hope that we get this done very quickly because we're losing a lot of talent.

I know many, many young people who would love to be here to do exactly what many of us did in the day. Also, thank you for the diversity workforce piece in this bill, in terms of increasing funding for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. As well, as the number of reports, requiring the House to evaluate racial and gender pay disparities to identify and maintain diverse talent pipelines and to improve disaggregated demographic data collection across Capitol Hill.

Again, I just have to say as a former staffer of the late Ron Dellums and one of only a handful of Black women staff on Capitol Hill during that time, I personally know how extremely important the value of representation and diversity means here on the Hill and in our district offices.

Congresswoman Lee also worked to include the following provisions in this legislation: 

  • Employment of DACA Recipients The bill includes language permitting the Legislative Branch agencies it funds to employ Dreamers— residents of the United States brought to this country as children without proper immigration status—who hold employment authorization under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

  • Removes Offensive Statues and Busts  The bill recognizes the need to confront the crisis of systemic racism. The bill includes language directing the Architect of the Capitol to remove statues or busts in the United States Capitol that represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of white supremacists Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke and the bust of Roger B. Taney.