Week 2: It is said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried

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Friday, June 5, 2015


Elias Kim

Over the weekend, I went with a couple of the SPS interns to see the acclaimed Air and Space Museum. I had been there before as an 8th grader, but was eager to see it again having taken a number of astronomy courses during my time at Vassar. I was blown away by the sheer scope of what the museum held, especially the equipment they had recovered from expired initiatives and experiments. Especially exciting was the small exhibit dedicated to Vera Rubin, a Vassar alumnae and pioneer in the field of Dark Matter detection.

Congress returned to session this week and that meant more than a return to more formal dress; the level of activity and stress in the office rose significantly. The week ahead certainly looked busy, with a full plate of hearing, markups, and briefings. There were no votes on Monday, but one of the staffers on the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade subcommittee took me to a briefing for the Takata airbag hearing that would take place the next day. We first went to listen to staffers from the Majority Committee give a brief overview of the agenda for the week, and then went to a smaller area where we learned more information about the Takata hearing. It was a welcomed introduction to the operations of the House.

On Tuesday, a couple of the other interns from my office and I participated in a training sessions with the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service. They showed us how to request reports and files, and how to best supplement the work that we will be required to do in our offices.  The Library itself is incredibly impressive, and I plan on returning for both work and pleasure. Later that day, we had the opportunity to attend a lecture by the legendary John Lewis. Congressman Lewis detailed the tremendous experience he has had as both a member of congress and a hero of the Civil Rights movement.

Wednesday was equally exciting, as I went to a full committee markup of two bills, one regarding toxic chemical control and the other establishing new regulations to control the FCC. The first had overwhelming bipartisan support and easily passed the committee, whereas the latter was much more contentious. There was some serious political theater as the two sides debated numerous amendments to the bill. That night was punctuated with a screening of the TV show Fortitude, a murder mystery set in the quickly-melting Arctic Circle. Several prominent congressional leaders used the event to speak about climate change policy, an area that I am deeply interested in.

For the rest of the week, I continued to work on research projects and concluded it by going to a panel discussion on internet governance. It was a welcomed reminder that I do not know too much about how the internet works; this lack of knowledge is something that I will have to change! I am looking forward to this weekend, when my favorite soccer team, FC Barcelona, will play in the European Championship. 

Elias Kim