Week 2: Politics vs. Productivity

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Friday, June 5, 2015


Drew Roberts

The second weekend afforded me time to get to better know the area around Woodley Park.  Just down the road from our apartment is a set of streets centered around Massachusetts Ave. that contain dozens of foreign embassies.  It makes for a great walk to pass by the Embassy of South Africa, with a large statue of Nelson Mandela posed in the front, and then look across the street to find the embassies of both Italy and Brazil right next to each other.  Along with great sights, Woodley Park and nearby Adams Morgan have many great restaurants with menus ranging from bafflingly large pieces of pizza to authentic Korean ramen.

Delicious Korean ramen.After a fun weekend, it was time to get back to work with my first week on the Hill while Congress is in session.  Much of the week focused on preparing for a hearing on EPA regulations which took place on Thursday.  The hearing, set up by the majority, was intended to investigate any potential overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, in their rules covering clean air and water regulations.  For the hearing, I gathered and distributed information explaining the positions of the party, as well as each of the witnesses.  This way, members and staff on the committee could asked informed questions of the witnesses in an effort to learn as much as possible from each expert.  

Thursday ended up being a lesson in discerning the two different types of hearings on the Hill - informational and political.  This one fell under the latter.  Whereas some hearings allow for discovery of information and debate of ideas, others consist of separate ends of the political spectrum talking past each other on a divisive topic for a few hours.  Although the hearing didn’t end up providing many new perspectives to the committee members, it was eye opening to see the process behind the scenes.  My job during the hearing took the form of taking pictures for the committee, retrieving requested supplies and items for the Members of Congress, and generally watching over the hearing to make sure things were going smoothly.  It is truly amazing to see how much work is completed by staff members behind the scenes, before the Congressmen and Congresswomen even show up for the day.

Witnesses for the hearing on EPA regulations.Since the political cycle seems to endlessly continue, I wrapped up the week by doing research for upcoming hearing, even assisting in drafting the minority staff memo on the topic.  I look forward to contributing to upcoming work and continuing to learn more and more about the political machine.

Drew Roberts