Friday, June 30, 2017By:
While I am absolutely loving my work on the Hill, the college kid and/or nerd in me misses my classwork. Not to fear—House staff have a range of classes and courses open to them! This week I learned about basic legislative concepts, which covered the structure of the House and Senate down to committees. Then we talked about different types of legislation, how they are created and passed, and how committees decide which legislation will be up for consideration. Finally, we followed a couple of bills from the last Congress and traced their paths between committees, through the House and Senate, all the way to the president’s desk. Although it was just an overview, I learned a lot in those few hours and feel like I have a much better understanding of the inner workings of the legislative process!
Yesterday, Riley and I got to take the other interns on a tour of the Hill, and I loved showing everyone around! We started off at a hearing on In-Space Propulsion that was held by the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space. Everyone was shocked when the subcommittee ranking member, Representative Ami Bera, gave a shout out to all of the SPS interns and expressed his delight that we were there! He even had us stand so that the room could applaud.
After Riley showed everyone around his committee office, we started off on our tour of the Capitol. I had picked up gallery passes beforehand, so we got to sit in the House gallery and watch the representatives in action. We got there just as they were debating Kate’s Law, which they ended up passing later in the day. I’d been reading about the bill in the news earlier that morning, so I was particularly interested in hearing what the representatives had to say!
It turns out that we had picked an especially lucky day to tour the Capitol; as we were walking into Statuary Hall, we were shocked when Paul Ryan passed us in the hallway! We’d barely gotten over that surprise when a few minutes later Mike Pence walked through. That definitely doesn’t happen every day, but it’s certainly true that I never know who I’ll run into when I head off to work in the morning!
It has been a crazy week, since the Science Committee has been in the news recently because of a hearing that happened in May. Essentially, it came out that one of the witnesses, Deborah Swackhamer, was contacted by an EPA official about her testimony before the hearing—and depending on who you ask, it was either to pressure her to change her testimony or to make sure everything in the testimony was accurate. Either way, it’s been fascinating watching everything unfold!