If Republicans sweep the House and win key Senate seats in November, it’s not just elected Democrats who will be unemployed — more than 1,500 Democratic staffers could lose their jobs, with layoffs stretching from low-wage staff assistants to six-figure committee aides.
While turnover and job loss is a fact of life for those who serve in Congress, a change in party control can be dramatic as committee funding is slashed for the party falling out of power and hundreds of high-salary jobs switch hands.
The layoffs start with election losers. Each House office employs about 18 people, and each Senate office employs about 34. But the heaviest job loss happens in committees, which employ hundreds of highly paid experts and attorneys. In the House, the majority controls 66 percent of the committee budget, meaning if Democrats shift to the minority, they would control only about one-third of committee funds, potentially leaving hundreds of committee staffers unemployed if Republicans sweep the House.
While there are no signs yet of a Hill-wide stampede, some Democratic aides say they are bracing for the worst.
LegiStorm, which tracks congressional salaries and staffing, estimates there are 1,500 people employed by House committees, and 1,000 of those currently work for Democrats. If the Democrats lose 40 seats and control of the House, it would shrink the party’s committee staffing percentage levels by half, eliminating roughly 500 jobs. POLITICO did not estimate committee numbers for the Senate because the Senate is not expected to change power.
When party control has changed in both chambers, the job casualties were brutal. In 2006, when Democrats won the House and Senate, approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Republican aides lost their jobs. And in 1994, when Republicans gained control, a few thousand Democratic aides — many who had spent careers on the Hill — were forced into unemployment.
Overall, there are roughly 18,000 workers on Capitol Hill, including those in nonpolitical support positions.
Meanwhile, Republicans who have been on the sidelines for the past four years are brushing up résumés for a return to the Hill. Bush-era GOP aides are slowly returning, in some cases taking lower-level jobs as place holders, hoping for the field to open in November.
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(Read More: Politico)