Week 5: Half Way Point

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


Ashley Finger

A view of the barbeque festival with the Capitol Building in the background.I came into this internship with an affinity for a busy schedule and I'm happy to say that as my fifth week in Washington, D.C. comes to a close, my "to do" list is becoming longer rather than shorter as I learn about more opportunities this city has to offer. Last weekend included my first attendance of Jazz in the Garden (a weekly event that features a live band in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden), a visit to the National Archives Museum (to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights) and a barbeque festival (which featured impressive chefs from around the country).

The tunnel to the Library of Congress.In terms of work this week, I worked on longer term research project for a staff member in addition to the now familiar routine of preparing for, and keeping records of, hearings and markups. This week I worked on a hearing titled, "Pathways to Exploration: A Review of the Future of Human Space Exploration" in which the members of the committee consulted experts on the pros and cons of pursuing a human excursion to the surface of Mars. I also attended my first true bill markup (at the first, I was only present for the votes) in which the members of the committee propose and discuss amendments to a potential bill. This particular markup was for H.R. 4012, "The Secret Science Reform Act of 2014," a controversial piece of legislation that would affect the E.P.A.'s use and presentation of research. I would also like to note here, in light of that markup, that the nature of hearings and markups in committee at this point in time are quite different than they have been in the past, and the press has begun to take notice. It has, until now, been unusual for hearings and markups to be described as "contentious" or "controversial," terms that are popping up fairly consistently in my journal. This makes now a very interesting time to be working for the committee.

Additionally, this week I experienced several days with a change in pace. Early in the week, I received CRS (Congressional Research Service) training at the Library of Congress which prompted me and one other committee intern to learn our way around the tunnels between congressional office buildings. Then, on Tuesday, eight of us went to a restaurant called The Argonaut for "Science Night" as team "Let Us Atom" to compete in a series of scientific events—all three of which we won. Then, on Wednesday, I Ben and I left straight from Capitol Hill for the annual congressional baseball game in which both the representative from my home district and a member of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology played.

The congressional baseball game.My work week finished with Friday being the last day for two of the interns who worked for the committee. We said farewell with lunch, ice cream cake, and endless thanks and words of appreciation. Without a doubt, next week the office will feel a little empty without their upbeat personalities and constant smiles.

With such a busy week, I took some time to relax this weekend, spending Saturday afternoon enjoying the sun on the National Mall and exploring the Georgetown waterfront at sunset. Finally, as if to catch up on activity, on Sunday I went to the National Air and Space Museum followed by the Folk Life Festival—a cultural festival featuring food, art, craftsmanship, and music from China and Kenya.

Ashley Finger