Should NM congressional delegation pay its interns?
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE – A fiscally conservative policy organization has singled out a number of Capitol Hill Democrats — including — for criticism, saying they’re saying one thing and doing another when it comes to calls for raising the minimum wage.
The sent out an analysis on Monday saying that 96 percent of the sponsors of last year’s Fair Minimum Wage Act do not pay their congressional interns.
“The vast majority of the bill’s sponsors are legislating with a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach,” said the post, which was accompanied by a
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama called for a 40 percent increase on the national minimum wage — boosting it to $10.10 an hour, which would match the executive order he issued for federal contract employees.
, Heinrich is one of the co-sponsors of last year’s bill who does not pay his interns. Heinrich was the only member of the New Mexico congressional delegation who co-sponsored the legislation, which never made it through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Heinrich’s press office directed New Mexico Watchdog to but did not respond to direct questions confirming whether or not the EPI post was correct and, if true, whether Heinrich has plans to start paying interns.
New Mexico Watchdog sent emails to the rest of the New Mexico delegation asking members whether they pay their interns or not.
Jennifer Talhelm, spokeswoman for , replied that their ”internships are unpaid, almost always for current college students, with NM college students given preference, and that many students can get college credit.” She added the internship programs they work with do pay stipends.
, the lone Republican in the New Mexico delegation, also uses unpaid interns.
“He has cut his office budget and saved taxpayers nearly $300,000 over the past three years, but is pleased that interns can still gain experience, receive college credit, or find full time employment through our office,” said Pearce spokesman Eric Layer in an email.
New Mexico Watchdog did not receive responses from or , both Democrats who have for .
Pearce has come out against raising the minimum wage. “A national minimum wage set to meet the income level of New York City or San Francisco would only punish the economy of Las Cruces or Silver City,” Layer said.
The question of paying interns has become who say the practice amounts to providing free labor and exploits college students and young people and is unfair to poorer students who cannot take unpaid internships while the more affluent can.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski