Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Questions For Cohen Required Major Behind-The-Scenes Work

by Caroline Burke
Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee listened to Michael Cohen in a hearing that revealed several bombshell allegations. During her allotted time as one of the many Congress members on the committee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's questions for Cohen were focused on Trump's financial history. But after the hearing was over, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to call out another aspect of the hearing that not many people think about: the effort that goes into making it happen, which is carried out by a multitude of unseen staffers.

If you've ever wondered how Congress members are able to ask such specific questions and respond to information they've received only moments ago, Ocasio-Cortez has the answer for you. The freshman Congress member explained that her own staff, along with the House Oversight Committee staff, worked "tirelessly" to help her prepare her line of questioning in the minutes leading up to her allotted time with Cohen.

In response to a tweet that has since been deleted, Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter,

Thanks! I really appreciate that. We need to acknowledge the people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen. @OversightDems staff w/ my staff were double-checking info requests I had just minutes before my turn. I’m truly inspired by their selfless commitment.

Ocasio-Cortez was highlighting a fact that most people probably constantly overlook: that every politician in Congress is backed by a whole team of staffers who are working to ensure that they have all of the information they need for every meeting, hearing, and political event.

According to Slate, one congressional staffer's account of their average day revealed it to be long, tiring, and often tedious. The staffer revealed that they worked, on average, 12-14 hours a day, and struggled to live off of the small salary given. The staffer further noted that the job was so hard that some congressional offices experienced over 50 percent annual turnover.

Since she entered her office in January, though, Ocasio-Cortez has been vocal about wanting to change the status quo with staffers. And on Feb. 22, Ocasio-Cortez announced she'd be paying her staffers $17,000 more than the median that congressional staffers earn, according to Yahoo Finance.

On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez wrote,

Leadership starts with our choices. That’s why I decided that no one on my staff will make less than $52k/year. It’s likely one of the highest entry-level salaries on the Hill. We pinch pennies elsewhere, but it’s worth every dime to pay a living wage.

According to Refinery 29, Ocasio-Cortez's office will be able to manage this salary increase by deflating the higher salaries; for example, the publication notes that a Congress member's chief of staff usually earns over $150,000, but Ocasio-Cortez's employees won't earn more than $80,000.

Ocasio-Cortez has made the notion of living wage one of her political cornerstones in recent months, arguing time and time again that every person has the right to a living wage. In December, she relayed her shock that staffers and interns were working in restaurants as second jobs to make rent. She wrote on Twitter, "It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about 'fiscal responsibility.'"

Following Ocasio-Cortez's allotted time with Cohen, she was largely praised for her efficient line of questioning. You can watch her full back-and-forth with Cohen here.