House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday announced that the maximum salary for House staffers will be raised “in order to help the Congress recruit and retain the outstanding and diverse talent that we need.”

The new top staff pay rate will be $199,300, Pelosi said in a letter to fellow lawmakers. That means some high-ranking staffers will make more than most members of Congress, who — with the exception of those in leadership — earn an annual salary of $174,000.

“As Speaker, I have been proud to take steps to ensure a diversity of experience and talent among staff, so that the halls of Congress, at every level, truly reflect those who we are honored to serve,” Pelosi said in the letter, which was first reported by Politico.

Although Pelosi’s statement refers to Congress, her office later clarified that it applied only to the House.

In addition to aiding with recruitment and retention, she added, the move “also helps ensure parity between employees of the House of Representatives and other employees of the Federal Government.”

Pay for congressional aides has languished in recent years, even as the cost of living in the Washington region has risen. As a result, many top-level staffers end up leaving Capitol Hill for more-lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Thursday’s announcement was years in the making. Shortly after the 2018 midterm elections thrust Democrats into the House majority, Pelosi lacked enough support to win the vote for speaker, so she agreed to demands from a bipartisan group of moderates for internal reforms, including the creation of a committee to study and recommend institutional changes.

Since then, the panel, known as the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, has been at work producing dozens of recommendations. Among them: increase the amount each lawmaker gets to spend, while no longer capping pay to aides based on what members of Congress make.

Pelosi on Thursday thanked the panel as well as House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who recommended the salary increase.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), a longtime proponent of raising the salary cap, praised the move in a statement Thursday for “allowing hard-working Congressional employees to make higher salaries and improving Congress’ ability to retain the best and brightest staff serving the American people.”

Some observers were divided on whether entry- and mid-level Hill staffers are likely to be affected by the move.

Josh McCrain, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah, said in a tweet that increasing the pay of the most-senior staffers “will have essentially no effect on welfare-improving outcomes.”

The “revolving door doesn’t change,” McCrain said, while “junior staff will continue to be underpaid probably even to a worse degree.”

Matt Glassman, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, called the raising of the salary cap “big news for high-end committee staffer retention.”

Paul Kane contributed to this report.