Senate staffers play an important role in the ongoing administrative work of U.S. Senators. The federal government makes allowances for Senators to hire staff members, so long as they keep the salaries of personal staffers under the required maximum limit. In June 2011, the Congressional Research Service published its Congressional Salaries and Allowances report, indicating the maximum pay for congressional staffers.
According to the Congressional Research Service report, U.S. Senators made $174,000 per year, as of 2011, and have done so since 2009. This salary is only somewhat higher than the maximum allowable salary for senatorial staff members, who were eligible to make up to $168,411 per year, also as of 2009.
Aside from having a maximum salary that senators can pay staff members, each member of the Senate is allocated a Members’ Representational Allowance that ranges from $1,356,975 to $1,671,596 per year. The salaries of senatorial staffers are drawn from this pool of pay. According to the Congressional Research Service report, the average senator used $1,446,009 in funds each year, as of 2010. As of 2010, the maximum amount of the total allowance that could be allocated to staff salaries was $944,671. In 2011, that amount was reduced by 5 percent.
The amount that each staff member is paid from within this budget range depends upon the maximum allowed number of staff members that each member of the Senate has been granted. The Capitol.Net Inc. notes that senators may hire as many staff members as they wish, so long as the number they hire fits within the staffing budget. This number typically ranges from 26 to 60 staff members. Members of the House of Representatives are limited to 18 staffers.
Other personnel who serve as office or clerical staff are paid according to the federal government's General Schedule pay scale. This pay scale consists of 15 pay grades, each with its own entry-level and maximum allowable salary. For instance, the GS-01 pay grade starts at $17,540 and caps out at $21,944 per year, as of 2009. At the high end of the pay scale, GS-15 employees make from $98,156 to $127,604 per year.