Understanding the changes that occurred in 2023 among Congress and state legislatures in the U.S. is pivotal for public affairs professionals looking to develop an effective government affairs strategy in the years ahead.

In this post, we dig into the data to explore the important changes occurring in U.S. politics over the past year, such as the movement among legislators and congressional staff, lobbying trends, expenses and congressional reports.


Disclaimer: The information below is accurate as of Jan. 7, 2024.


Departing Members in 2023

Among the biggest changes facing Congress concerns the number of departing members this year. A total of 34 House members announced that they will not seek reelection in 2024, with 11 Republicans and 23 Democrats announcing this year they are leaving Congress.

The Senate is also experiencing departures, with seven members (two Republicans and five Democrats) leaving at the end of their terms.

Many of these departing members are leaving to seek higher office, such as the Senate or a governorship in 2024. These members include:

While some departing members have expressed a desire to spend more time with their families, others have cited the constant dysfunction in Congress as a reason to head for the exits. Among the most high profile is Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who was ousted earlier this year from his post as Speaker of the House following interparty squabbles between Republicans. Other members announcing their retirement include:

Many of these departing members have served long careers and their absence will lead to changes in the upcoming years in Congress.


Congressional Staff Turnover

Turnover has been a major theme for Congress as staff unionization efforts have blossomed. With low pay and threats of violence requiring increased security staff spending, a 21% increase in personnel spending was budgeted. And a $45,000 salary floor was introduced to attract and retain staff. Since LegiStorm’s data won’t be definitive until March, when salary data will be in for the full year, It’s hard to know yet if higher pay has curbed the high turnover seen since the January insurrection at the Capitol.

About 2,600 staff left Congress completely in 2023, with 1,800 House and 800 Senate staffers heading for the exits this year. Also, around 3,500 congressional staffers changed offices in 2023, with 600 moving between the House and Senate, 1,500 moving to a different House office and 1,500 moving to a different Senate office.

According to LegiStorm’s turnover index — a salary-weighted calculation comparing staff departures in offices of varying size and composition—the House members with the highest turnover rates in the first three quarters of 2023 are:

  1. Rep. Jonathan Jackson (D-IL)
  2. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK)
  3. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)
  4. Rep. John Duarte (R-CA)
  5. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN)

Peltola’s staff consists mostly of people that she hired from her Republican predecessor, who died in office, so it’s quite possible the turnover does not reflect a concern for her management style as much as a mismatch in political party.

Senate members with the highest turnover rate in 2023 include:

  1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  2. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
  3. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
  4. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  5. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)


The Revolving Door Keeps Revolving

As usual, a host of congressional staff members made the leap from government to the lobbying world, a move known colloquially as the “revolving door.”

While the revolving door remains a common phenomenon in Washington D.C., the number of Congress to K Street moves is slightly lower than last year but the final quarter of lobbying data has not yet been reported. It’s worth noting that in the odd non-election years, revolving door moves are typically higher than in election years. And over the years we have tracked it, there is a broad uptrend that shows no sign of slowing down.

In 2023, so far 563 congressional staff members left government for lobbying positions, down from 661 in 2022. The revolving door continued to be a bipartisan affair, with nearly the same amount of Republicans (287) as Democrats (264) leaving their government posts to join the private sector.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the number of K Street lobbyists entering government service experienced a sharp increase in 2023, rising from 65 in 2022 to 142 this year. Among these, Republicans saw a slightly larger increase at 58.5% of the total, representing 83 lobbyists who joined the government in 2023. That’s not a surprising trend given that Republicans took over control of the House, providing many more plum jobs in leadership offices and committees for the GOP.


Congressional Expenses in 2023

Full expense figures for House offices are not yet in for the final quarter of the year, but we can at this point determine official expenses as a percentage of each member’s allotted budget. 

For example, travel expenses made up 2.77% of House member’s budgets in 2023, a slight drop from 3.22% in 2022. We saw similar small decreases in expenses for supplies & materials (2.59% in 2022 vs. 1.24% in 2023), equipment (1.68% in 2022 vs. .37% in 2023) and rent/communication/utilities (4.35% in 2022 vs. 4.28% in 2023).

We witnessed a steep decline in expenses for franked mail, or taxpayer-funded communications related to a member’s district. Expenses as a percentage of budget for franked mail dropped from 2.94% in 2022 to 1.05% in 2023. However, this drop in spending is expected, as franked mail is typically utilized more heavily in election years.

House members with the highest expenses so far include:

  1. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  2. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
  3. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC)
  4. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
  5. Rep. Christina Houlahan (D-PA)

Both Pelosi and Clyburn gave up leadership positions and their high costs for their personal offices may reflect an attempt to keep as much talent as possible when they lost their leadership staff.


Top Vendors in 2023

Congressional office expenditures this year saw the largest percentage of spending go toward unknown vendors. This spending typically includes credit card payments or reimbursements to staff, which allows offices to avoid revealing specifics by recording transactions as credit card payments rather than the specific vendor being paid.  However, the House ​​now includes additional entity identifiers for select data fields to enable the public to better analyze and understand the data provided.

The list of top vendors for House members includes:

  1. U.S. Postal Service 
  2. Leidos Digital Solutions Inc. 
  3. Fireside21 LLC 
  4. Amplify Inc 
  5. Indigovern LLC 


Privately-Funded Travel

With the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully) in the rearview, Congress returned to its usual travel schedule in 2022 after a drop from 2020 to 2021.

Congress regularly travels throughout the year for purposes ranging from meeting with foreign leaders, visiting U.S. military sites and overseeing government-funded projects. While some congressional travel is taxpayer-funded, the trips covered in this section are privately funded by outside organizations.

In 2023, House members took 1713 trips overall, 996 by Republicans and 697 by Democrats. This number was a slight decrease from 2022, when House members took 1800 trips, 1214 by Republicans and 576 by Democrats.

Members of the House who traveled the most in 2023 include:

The top destinations for House members include:

  1. United States - 1232 Trips
  2. Israel - 156 Trips
  3. United Kingdom - 40 Trips
  4. France - 27 Trips
  5. Japan - 25 Trips

The top sponsors for congressional travel include:

  1. Congressional Institute Inc. - 163 Trips
  2. Conservative Partnership Institute - 102 Trips
  3. Aspen Institute - 90 Trips
  4. American Israel Education Foundation - 90 Trips
  5. Center Forward - 64 Trips


Town Halls in 2023

Members of Congress continued using town halls to connect with their districts, utilizing phone and Zoom meetings and meeting in person. While most members of Congress held some type of town hall in 2023, the members who held the most include:

  1. Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-OK) - 64 town halls
  2. Rep. Tracey Mann (R-KS) - 54 town halls
  3. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) - 45 town halls
  4. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) - 38 town halls
  5. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) - 25 town halls


Press Releases

Congress published about five thousand press releases every month in 2023, covering a wide range of issues. Some of these press releases were customary, such as acknowledging the passing of a congressional colleague while others dealt with hot-button issues such as the Russia/Ukraine war and immigration.

A new topic that showed up more frequently in press releases last year concerned the emergence of AI technology in 2023. The sudden popularity of AI platforms such as ChatGPT and Midjourney raised alarms in Congress as they attempted to guide this burgeoning technology safely, outlining the potential pitfalls of AI use across various disciplines, including government.

The most common topics for 2023 congressional press releases included:

  • Health
  • Economy
  • Security and Defense
  • Infrastructure
  • Environment
  • Israel
  • Supreme Court rulings and other judicial matters (e.g. Roe vs Wade overturned)


The Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session.

The Congressional Record documents all floor activity and all remarks made by members of Congress on the House or Senate floor. Additionally, members can submit Extensions of Remarks for tributes, statements and other speeches that were not spoken on the floor but are included to supplement the proceedings.

The most frequent House speakers that appear in the Congressional Record include:

  1. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
  2. Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
  3. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA)
  4. Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA)
  5. Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ)

The most frequent Senate speakers that appear in the Congressional Record include:

  1. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  2. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  3. Sen. John Thune (R-SD)        
  4. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  5. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Of the over 4,000 submitted statements and Extensions of Remarks, the most common presenters included:

  1. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)
  2. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
  3. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)
  4. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)
  5. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)


Congressional Hearings in 2023

Congressional committees also held thousands of hearings throughout 2023, many conducted by groups such as the House Judiciary, Ways and Means and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Subjects in the hearings ranged from arms control to substance abuse, military recruitment and the federal debt. Congressional committees used these hearings to explore issues in more detail, calling forth experts in various subject areas to provide a clear path forward in combatting some of the nation’s most pressing problems.


Congressional Office Salaries in 2023

House staff salaries have dramatically risen in the past few years as turnover worsens and as staff unionization efforts intensify. This trend may be driven by a number of factors but staffers cite frequent threats of violence against them and lawmakers as one key reason for their concern.

The median House staffer median salary in 2023 was $69,269, a tad lower than staffers from the 117th Congress, which earned a median $69,434. However, this number may rise as House staffer bonuses have not yet been reported.

The top 5 highest-paid member offices include:

  1. Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) - $101,794 median salary
  2. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) - $101,715 median salary
  3. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) - $98,958 median salary
  4. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) - $98,046 median salary
  5. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) - $97,266 median salary

The top 5 lowest-paid House member offices include:

  1. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) - $46,710 median salary
  2. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) - $47,526 median salary
  3. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) - $49,084 median salary
  4. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) - $49,772 median salary
  5. Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-NY) - $51,478 median salary

Senate staffers saw a slight increase in salaries, with a median of $72,136, compared to $72,070 in the 117th Congress. The top 5 highest-paid Senate offices include:

  1. Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) - $103,859 median salary
  2. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) - $96,668 median salary
  3. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) - $94,597 median salary
  4. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-GA) - $93,468 median salary
  5. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) - $90,999 median salary

The top 5 lowest-paid Senate member offices include:

  1. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) - $48,824 median salary
  2. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) - $53,749 median salary
  3. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) - $56,863 median salary
  4. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) - $57,181 median salary
  5. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) - $58,917 median salary

Among congressional offices, the highest-paid roles in the House include:

  1. Chief of Staff - $170,467 median salary
  2. Professional Staff Member - $168,110 median salary
  3. District/State Chief of Staff - $148,169 median salary
  4. Information Technology Director - $124,905 median salary
  5. Chief Counsel - $124,079 median salary

The highest-paid offices in the Senate include:

  1. Chief of Staff - $193,816 median salary
  2. Deputy Chief of Staff - $169,817 median salary
  3. State Director - $158,381 median salary
  4. Legislative Director - $158,374 median salary
  5. District/State Chief of Staff - $158,299 median salary

Meanwhile, the lowest-paid roles House offices include:

  1. Research Assistant - $49,929 median salary
  2. Staff Assistant - $50,694 median salary
  3. Receptionist - $50,933 median salary
  4. Mail/Correspondence Coordinator - $51,686 median salary
  5. Communications Specialist - $51,808 median salary

The lowest-paid Senate offices include:

  1. Law Clerk - $24,257 median salary
  2. District/Regional/State Coordinator - $48,715 median salary
  3. Staff Assistant - $49,897 median salary
  4. District/State Assistant - $50,541 median salary
  5. Scheduling Assistant - $52,449 median salary


State Legislatures in 2023

State legislatures across the nation saw lots of changes in 2023 following the 2022 midterm elections, with 3391 new state legislators entering state Houses and Senates last year.

The states with the most new state legislators in 2023 include:

  1. New Hampshire - 395 New Members
  2. Maine - 174 New Members
  3. Minnesota - 163 New Members
  4. Iowa - 144 New Members
  5. Florida - 140 New Members


Departing State Legislators

There were also 125 departing state legislators in 2023. Many of the reasons behind these departures include spending time with family, exploring runs for other elected offices and leaving for the private sector.

In addition, 12 state legislators died in office last year while 13 changed offices and three were expelled.


New State Legislators for 2024

While 2023 wasn’t a major election year, a handful of states held state-level races, meaning a new crop of incoming state legislators in 2024.

The states seeing new representation in 2024 include:

  • Virginia - 134 New Members
  • Louisiana - 46 New Members
  • New Jersey - 39 New Members
  • Mississippi - 33 New Members


Lobbying in 2023

2022 was a big year for lobbying following the passage of major legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act. However, with 2023 seeing fewer pieces of substantial legislation being passed, lobbying either stayed flat or experienced decreases.

The number of newly registered lobbyists decreased from 1,723 in 2022 to 1,371 in 2023, but the final quarterly filings are not in yet. Conversely, the number of new lobbying registrations saw a slight increase, from 4,337 in 2022 to 4,485 in 2023.

The total number of lobbyists may see an increase in 2023, with 12,923 in 2022 and 12,759 in 2023 with the final quarter not yet fully accounted for. This number has stayed relatively flat since the highs of 2008, when there were over 15,000 registered lobbyists in Washington—that year also coincided with an effort by Congress to purge inactive lobbyists from their data so it’s possible that no real decrease has occurred since then.

Let’s take a deep dive into the data to see who the big winners in lobbying were in 2023.


Top Lobbying Issues

Health care once again dominated the list of issues being spent on lobbying in 2023. The rest of the list includes many important issues related to the budget, defense and housing, among others.

The list of top lobbying issues based on expenditures in 2023 includes:

  1. Health Issues - 16.0%
  2. Housing - 10.9%
  3. Medicare/Medicaid - 8.9%
  4. Defense - 6.5%
  5. Budget/Appropriations - 6.0%


Top Lobbying Firms

The list of the top lobbying firms in 2023 contains many typical giants in the industry, along with some relative newcomers. They include:

  1. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP 
  2. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP 
  3. Holland & Knight LLP 
  4. Invariant LLC
  5. Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.


Top Lobbying Clients

On the other side of the coin, the list of top lobbying clients contains many familiar names representing business, tech, real estate and more. They include:

  1. U.S. Chamber of Commerce 
  2. National Association of Realtors 
  3. Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America 
  4. Meta Platforms Inc. 
  5. Amazon Corporate LLC


Tracking Congress and State Legislatures in 2024 and Beyond

Analyzing data related to the inner workings of government helps public affairs professionals better understand the evolving priorities of Washington, along with helping to anticipate changes likely to be seen in the years ahead.

By utilizing public affairs software such as LegiStorm, you can track staff and leadership changes in Congress and state legislatures, along with following trends in the world of lobbying and keeping up on congressional publications, town halls, press releases, hearings and more.

This article provides just a sample of the data types revealed through the LegiStorm platform. We encourage you to explore the platform further to see how it can help your organization plan an effective government affairs strategy to accomplish your goals.




  1. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kevin-mccarthy-removed-house-speaker-what-happens-next/
  2. https://www.legistorm.com/pro_news/3042/despite-improvement-last-years-staff-turnover-was-still-among-the-houses-worst-in-decades.html
  3. https://rollcall.com/2023/06/15/in-a-first-house-education-and-the-workforce-panels-democratic-staffers-look-to-unionize/
  4. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2023/03/01/congressional-travel-derided-junkets-back-rise/11357975002/
  5. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-house-set-minimum-annual-pay-staff-45000-pelosi-says-2022-05-06/
  6. https://www.legistorm.com/pro_news/2912/transparency-is-lacking-in-some-members-budget-reports.html
  7. https://www.house.gov/the-house-explained/open-government/statement-of-disbursements
  8. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/15/by-the-numbers-the-inflation-reduction-act/
  9. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/08/09/fact-sheet-chips-and-science-act-will-lower-costs-create-jobs-strengthen-supply-chains-and-counter-china/
  10. https://www.npr.org/2023/12/29/1222245114/congress-wasnt-very-productive-in-2023-here-are-the-27-bills-it-passed

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