The Role of Staff
Office and personal staff play a vital role in the function and operation of Congress. With members being pulled in a dozen different directions on any given day, staffers will often act as the “eyes and ears” for their bosses, doing everything from answering phones and reading mail to tending to constituent casework, monitoring legislative affairs, attending committee and subcommittee meetings, scheduling events, and communicating with the press.
More Is Better
Over the past thirty years, the size of Congressional staff has grown dramatically (at taxpayer expense). Currently, more than 10,000 staffers work in the district and Capitol offices of the members. The average Senate office employs thirty-five staff members, with the average House office employing half that number. Senators from the populous states receive a greater percentage of staff than those from less populous states, while House members all receive the same number of staff.
In addition to personal, office, and committee staffs, members of Congress have access to the expertise and knowledge of professional staffers at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the General Accounting Office (GAO), among others. These agencies were created for the express purpose of providing information to members of the House and Senate.