WASHINGTON, D.C. — Funding for paid internships at the State Department has been removed from the Senate version of the 2022 appropriations bill currently being negotiated in the upper chamber of Congress.
The bill passed by the House of Representatives included $10 million to fund paid internships at the State Department. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), chair of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, led the charge to include the funds in the House version of the funding bill.
As a single mother, Lee served as an intern in the office of then-Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) after working on Shirley Chisolm’s 1972 presidential campaign.
Like Lee, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), who chairs the same subcommittee in the Senate, also began his career in Congress as an intern for then-Sen. Joe Biden.
The State Department had originally requested $20 million to fund paid internships at the agency after Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) wrote a damning op-ed in Foreign Policy decrying the department’s hiring culture as “pale, male, and Yale.”
The non-profit Pay Our Interns has been working with Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Sens Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) since October 2020 to secure funding for paid internships at the State Department.
The $10 million in funding that was eventually included in the House bill was a compromise that has since disappeared from the 2022 appropriations legislation in the Senate’s version of the bill.
In November, Pay Your Interns sent a letter to Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Coons requesting the $10 million be included in the appropriations bill, plus another $4.5 million to pay interns at the White House.
“These funds would help open the doors to working in public service for all, regardless of a prospective intern’s socioeconomic status,” said the letter. “Too [many] prospective public servants are limited by financial circumstances these funds can help fix.”
Sens. Coons’ office did not respond to a request for comment.
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports