Elizabeth Warren Wants to Raise Congressional Staffers' Salaries to Reduce Corporate Lobbying

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren released a plan Friday aimed at reducing corporate lobbyists' influence in Washington. Key steps in the 2020 presidential candidate's proposal include reinstating a government office that provides research on technological and scientific issues and raising Congressional staffers' salaries.

The Democratic senator, who has regularly railed against the political influence of large corporations and who also released an anti-corruption plan earlier this month, said that the policies detailed on Friday would bolster Congress' independence.

"When Congress debates the Green New Deal, our representatives shouldn't have to rely on Exxon lobbyists to explain who should pay for the effects of carbon emissions on our planet," Warren wrote in a Medium post announcing the plan.

"When Congress decides whether it should break up big tech companies, our representatives shouldn't have to rely on Google's policy team to understand the effects of technology consolidation," the post continued, "And when Congress votes on restoring net neutrality protections, our representatives shouldn't have to turn to internet service providers to explain whether their industry needs more regulation."

The plan, which draws on Warren's experience creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, outlines three main points. The senator notes that the Office of Technology Assessment, a now-defunct nonpartisan federal research agency, produced about 750 reports between its creation in 1972 and 1995, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich defunded it. The reports tackled a sweeping range of subjects, and Warren proposes that a reinstated OTA—to be run by an independent director rather than lawmakers from both parties—will provide Congress with topical, relevant and less biased research.

Warren also proposes to increase the budgets of legislative support agencies like the Congressional Research Service and to tax excessive lobbying in order to help fund staffing for research.

Her plan also includes raising the salaries of Congressional staffers to "attract and retain committed, hard-working public servants from diverse backgrounds." A Congressional Research Service report found that salaries for many staff positions have decreased in successive years, even as living costs continue rising. Of the 15 Congressional roles measured in the survey, 10 had budget cuts in 2017-2018.

Warren has distinguished herself from other presidential candidates by publishing a range of thoroughly researched policy plans that offer concrete approaches to addressing voter concerns. These plans have helped set her apart in a crowded field. Warren, along with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has been credited with helping push the Democratic Party to the left. Recent polls have shown Warren vying with former Vice President Joe Biden, for frontrunner status in the 2020 Democratic primary race.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a Town Hall at Keene State College on September 25 in Keene, New Hampshire. Warren unveiled yet another policy plan Friday, this time tackling lobbying in Congress. Scott Eisen/Getty Images