Monday, June 13, 2022By:
So, you may have noticed that it’s been a minute since I posted a blog. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you, dear reader. I’m writing this preamble in the final week of my internship, which has been a very fulfilling, but very challenging, summer. I found it difficult to focus on writing these after very long days in Congress. I will be posting blogs for each week and giving a full accounting of what this summer was like, but I wanted to acknowledge that from Week 3 onward, these are all written after the conclusion of my internship. That said, I did write this one on time, but forgot to post it. Thanks for your consideration! ~AK, from the future.
Hi y’all! Last week was the first time I physically went into the office. Due to COVID protocols, our office typically only works in-person on days when there are votes in the House. It was basically my first day, the sequel. A lot of the issues of the first few days were quickly resolved once I was around other humans who know what’s going on. I got my laptop working, got my ID badge, figured out a bike route to the Rayburn House Office Building, and got lost several times trying to find the Jamba Juice. I like being able to work in my pajamas from my bed as much as the next person, but there really is no substitute for instantaneous human conversation to answer simple questions.
I hit the ground running with my principal three office duties: answering phone calls, responding to constituent letters, and drafting memos about pieces of legislation the Congressman might co-sponsor. I’ll also be giving tours of the Capitol building, but I don’t have my first tour for a couple of weeks.
I answered seven phone calls last week. Most were very kind, well-meaning people either trying to get the contact information for a policy expert in our office or expressing a position on an upcoming bill. In particular, I answered two phone calls from people asking us to vote NO on HR 7910 and HR 2177, which are gun control bills. They were very cordial in their disagreements with the Congressman. I did get one classic phone call, though, from a very disgruntled gentleman concerned with the January 6 committee hearings that started last week. I tried to engage the gentleman in conversation about his concerns, but he wasn’t interested. That’s when I learned a very important lesson from one of the members of the office: if someone is being rude, don’t engage, cordially or otherwise. In addition to being unproductive, apparently there are some individuals who will try to get interns to say something unfortunate that they can leak to the press as “a statement from a staff member in the Office of Congressman Bill Foster”. That idea is going to stick with me.
I also drafted four constituent letters on the following issues: marijuana legalization, pesticide protections, investigating Dr. Anthony Fauci, and cutting defense spending. Since we get thousands of emails, letters, and phone calls to respond to every month, I don’t respond to each individual letter, I write a response that is common to letters concerning similar issues. We tweak each letter as needed, but for the most part, we respond to several constituent concerns with the same letter. If we could, I’m sure we would respond to each letter individually, but it is in the nature of responding to each of thousands of constituent concerns that we just don’t have the time.
Finally, I drafted memos on two pieces of legislation: HR 7165, the Lead Safe Housing for Kids Act, and HR 2734, the Veteran Families Health Services Act. The former would place new regulations on lead-based paint contamination in federally sponsored housing, and the latter would ensure access to infertility care for active service members and veterans.
As you can see, I work on a lot of different issues, which I love! It’s fascinating to research all of the various issues the federal government is responsible for in so much detail that one doesn’t ordinarily come across in the news.
This is a fairly typical work week as an intern in Congressman Foster’s office. I’m sure in future blogs I will talk about other things, but I wanted to make sure at least one of my blog posts talked about what I actually do on a daily basis. When I was preparing for this internship, I read these blogs, so for future possible interns reading this, if you work in this office, this is about what you can expect in a typical week!