Week 4: Sushi and Energy Innovation Hubs

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Friday, June 19, 2015


Drew Roberts

This weekend, I reached out to further parts of the city.  Saturday I spent my time on the Southern edge of the city, checking out music and events that were going on around the Navy Yard and Nationals Park. The next day, several interns and I ventured out into Maryland to try out a rock climbing center.  That was a great time, but provided many blisters to impede my typing at work on Monday!  After rock climbing, we went to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant.  Stuffing ourselves was the perfect way to end a fun weekend before starting back at work.

The first half of this week was my most interesting yet!  The committee had hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, with the latter being an oversight hearing on the Energy Innovation Hubs, a group of projects funded by the Department of Energy.  This was an important hearing for me because it is the one that I have had the most responsibility for so far.  For this hearing, not only did I perform the normal duties of gathering, printing, and distributing materials to members and various staff, but I played a role in creating said material!  For the party memorandum, I provided a couple pages of layman's description on the hubs.  This was good practice at taking technical explanations and condensing them down for less technical use.  Congresspeople are extremely well educated and intelligent but are expected to make informed decisions on such a wide variety of advanced topics that it is vital for staff to create comprehensive guides to get them up to speed.  After contributing to the guide, I was able to also take a crack at writing questions for the hearing.  Committee staff gathers a list of suggested questions for Congresspeople to ask during the hearing.  I read through all of the written testimonies and developed a set of my own.  Several of them made it into the suggestions delivered to members!  

Attending the hearing on Wednesday, it was very interesting to get to be there after having already done so much more research than usual.  I was much more invested in the questions and answers from the witnesses.  The hearing was rather bipartisan, but many of the Congresspeople got caught up in the technical details of the experiments run at these labs.  It is admirable that they wanted to learn and understand more about the science going on, but not all technical questions were necessarily productive in this venue.  Then came Congressman Perlmutter's turn for questioning.  He started off by telling the witnesses that he was going to hit them with some broad questions.  He then went down the line of witnesses, asking them overarching questions about their respective hubs and the hub system in general, touching on many major points that needed to be realized, and stopping the witness the second that a sufficient answer was delivered.  His style was rather loud, brash, and unpolished, but was simply amazing because it really got to the core points of the hearing.  He really showed the importance of not mincing words and getting to the point.

After our hearings, things slowed down on Thursday and Friday, before we have to jump back into things on Monday.  I look forward to doing in depth work on more hearings to come!

Drew Roberts