Week 2: Hearings and Briefings

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Monday, July 17, 2017


Riley Troyer

Congress is back in session! For those who don’t know, the congressional schedule takes a recess every so often. During this period the Senators and Representatives can go home, and office hours for staff members are shorter; everything is a little more laid back. When congress is back in session things get much more intense. Hearings are scheduled, votes are cast and everyone is dressed in business professional attire.  

This is my second week in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and so far I have been thoroughly enjoying the experience. I’ve learned an incredible amount about a wide range of topics and feel like I am starting to get a better understanding for how congress works, if that’s even possible.  

Around the office has been busy, to say the least. The staffers I’m working for were preparing for two hearings in three days with one of the hearings taking place in Alaska! Hearings are events where witnesses, often experts in a specific field, are brought before the committee members to testify and answer questions related to a certain topic. The first of the two hearings this week was about “cost reductions in emerging energy technologies” and covered some really interesting topics like LED lighting and electric cars. I got particularly excited when the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC) in Fairbanks, Alaska came up, since one of my friends was an intern there this last year.

Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to attend a committee meeting to vote on the nomination of the Deputy Secretaries for the Department of Energy and Department of Interior as well as a couple other federal positions. This gave me my first taste of protestors in DC. In the 15 or 20 minutes that the meeting lasted three protestors had to be escorted from the room! That certainly added some excitement to the day.

The rest of the week was a hodgepodge of different activities. I attended briefings on the decline in research funding and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (a massive Chinese trade and infrastructure development plan) and attended a House committee hearing about wildfires. I’m also starting to learn my way around the Hill. There are little subways that connect the various buildings. I was able to take one of these to the Capitol Building and walk around. I saw the Senate Gallery where the senators meet to vote and nearly got lost in the maze of rooms and narrow hallways.  

Outside of work all of the other interns have been awesome to hang out with. Everyone has so many interesting backgrounds and stories. This experience has really made me appreciate the SPS community. I’m already inspired to put even more effort into my local chapter. 

Riley Troyer