Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nearing the end

Well, the end is near. Last night, I attended a reception for the interns from the University of Connecticut's program, including for one of my fellow interns, Eric. Rep. Murphy spoke at the reception, and my entire office came out too. Chris spoke about his time as an intern in Senator Dodd's office in 1995, when our Chief of Staff, Josh, also interned with Dodd, something that they didn't know until two years ago when interviewing staff for the office. He spoke of how that internship inspired him to go into public service as a career, managing a congressional campaign against the woman he would beat ten years later, Nancy Johnson, and in two years, he was running for the State House. It was one of the few times which I have seen him speak about sort of personal issues, as opposed to a short floor speech about a given topic, such as health care, when we all know his position, and the gist of what he is going to say.

It was sad to say goodbye to Eric last night, though he is trying to get work on the Hill as a staffer somewhere, so we hope to stay in touch. I still have about two weeks, so I'll keep on blogging until the very end.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Party

As you may know, yesterday, Tax Day, was Tea Party Day for many conservatives upset about the Administration's spending and stimulus policies. For the past several weeks, Murphy's office has received several tea bags in the mail, from people supposedly protesting Congress' actions. Tea bags don't make it through the intense security of the Congressional mail, because of the 2001 anthrax attacks. I don't really understand what these people are protesting, since the original tea party, in 1773, was protesting Taxation without Representation, and the only people who can legitimately complain about that are DC residents.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Congressional Recess

Greetings again, and apologies for my sporadic posting. I've had a busy few weeks, for a variety of reasons, including two papers which I have due this Monday, ahhhh!!

The Congress has passed its budget resolutions for FY 2010, which is only the beginning of the process, which will last at least through September, when the Fiscal Year starts, and that's assuming that the process is on time. The big question on that front is whether Democrats, especially in the Senate, will use the special "reconciliation" process to get universal healthcare reform and some other long-range programs through the budget process, so that it cannot be filibustered by Republicans and conservative Democrats, and only pass with 51 votes in the Senate. Personally, I think that this is a good idea to move forward on sweeping reforms which the country needs right now, and I don't think that people out in the country care how the policies are changed, that's largely just inside baseball, but they want change, and they don't care if some Republicans have hurt feelings at the end of it.

On the internship front, things are progressing along nicely. On Wednesday, I had to go around the three House office buildings getting signatures for a "Dear Colleague" letter about land and water conservation which Rep. Murphy is the point person on. I do not enjoy the Rayburn building, since it is enormous and has many dead ends, so I frequently got lost.

A two week congressional recess has begun, which means no legislation, just some planning for future things, and catching up on old work. Also, it is tour season in DC, especially for congressional tours, which means the other interns and myself will frequently find ourselves spending a few hours per day taking visitors through the capitol, or waiting on line to do so, fun.

I'll try to update soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Return from Spring Break

Hello again, we're one week in from Spring Break. I had a relaxing week at home in Connecticut, but its good to be back in DC as spring arrives.

I arrived in the office on Tuesday afternoon, and found the front reception area empty. Our scheduler, Jessica quickly came in, and was thrilled that I had arrived, because both of the other interns were off this week for break, and my boss, Liz, the administrative assistant, had gone home to CT for a family emergency.

For a while I sorted the stacks and stacks of mail on the desk, and then Jessica asked me to prepare to give a Capitol Tour to a visiting family. Linda, one of the LA's, asked me to find out contact info for some of the police forces in the district, most of which were in really small towns which don't have their own police, they rely on the CT State Troopers. Then Paul, the Leg. Director, in charge of healthcare policy, asked me to write another short one minute speech for the congressman. Eventually, all that was done, and no major disasters occurred.

Wednesday and Friday were pretty uneventful, Liz returned on Wednesday afternoon, and I didn't have to deal with too many phone calls about the whole AIG mess.

PS: Here's a video of Rep. Murphy delivering the one minute on healthcare myths I drafted for him a few weeks ago:

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Not much action this week for me, especially since I had to cut out early and skip Wednesday because of a pretty bad cold, which I'm still trying to get over.

Tuesday afternoon, I went to a briefing about US-Mexico relations sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Institute, which was pretty interesting, and provided a free lunch, which is always welcome.

Yesterday, I was loaned to Rep. Jim Himes' office for a bit, because their staff was short of hands for part of the afternoon. Anything to get away from the endless FOCA postcards in my office.

This coming week, I'll be in for Tuesday and Wednesday, but will be heading back to CT for Spring Break Thursday night.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slow day

Another slow day on the Hill today, mostly because the House is out of session this week, so everyone gets to dress casually and there aren't a million things going on all at once. I spent much of the day preparing more letters to go out to constituents, including a visit down to the Democratic Caucus to use their fancy mail folding machine, tons of fun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All stimulated again

First, my apologies for not posting in quite a while, I've been rather busy, and haven't developed blogging into a habit yet, which I should work on.

Anyways, the country is now stimulated again, I guess, with today's enactment of the economic relief and recovery act into law by President Obama in Denver. The final bill was passed by both houses last Friday, an unusual Friday session for Congress. It was a busy week on the phones, with many calls coming in all at once, often in waves, including a plethora of people pledging to vote, and campaign against Rep. Murphy next year if he voted for the bill, which of course he did. They finally voted at around 2 in the House, and things seemed to calm down afterwards.

Not too much else noteworthy has happened in the past week or so, but I will try to post more often.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stimulus Passes House

Today was my full day on the Hill, arriving at about 8:45, after a treacherous journey to the Metro, due to the recent ice, which DC is notoriously bad at handling, leading President Obama to poke some fun this morning. A nice thing about working on the Hill is never having to go outside, so I basically only had to make it there, and was OK for the rest of the day.

Today was focused on the stimulus, mostly taking constituent calls about it, the vast majority of which were in opposition, though it is much easier to get people to call in against something rather than for it, and several polls have shown overall support for the plan. The other intern and I took turns on the phones, and logged them into our response system. We also compiled the funds that school districts in the district will be receiving from the stimulus, and organized a press call and conference call with some school superintendents about it.

Towards evening, the staff watched the floor votes, betting how many Republicans would actually vote for it, after Obama's efforts yesterday, as well as some Democratic compromises. My guess was 15, with some betting 6, and some as high as 25. It turned out to be zero, though the stimulus, HR 1, passed by a vote of 244-188, with 11 Democrats voting no.

Off tomorrow for class, and the House is out of session on Friday for the Republican's annual retreat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stimulating Feelings

Day 3 of the internship today. I arrived in the snow at around noon, after a morning class, to find the staffers debating the merits of different aspects of the proposed economic stimulus package, especially the White House's apparent willingness to scrap provisions for family planning funding in an attempt to gain support of key Republican lawmakers. President Obama came up to the Hill today and spoke the GOP Conference meetings on both sides of the Capitol, though it appears that the GOP leadership is going to strongly fight the stimulus.

Most of the day was spent listening to and cataloging messages left during a telephone town hall that Rep. Murphy did last Wednesday, as well as answering phone calls from constituents, most of them did not support the stimulus, and if they did, they wanted eVerify, a Homeland Security program to verify the work and immigration status of job applicants, to be in the bill.

I think that the best way to make the most out of internships like this is to simply be prepared to go the extra mile and take any opportunity offered, whether its a research assignment for a staffer or going to a briefing.

A full day is in store for tomorrow, it should be interesting.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Intro, and the First Few Days

Hey all, this is Max. I'm a junior at American University, and am just starting my internship in the DC office of Congressman Chris Murphy, a second term Democrat from Connecticut's Fifth District, in the northwest corner of the state.

Rep. Murphy is my congressman, and this was my third attempt at interning at his office. I have previously worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the fall of 2007, in the online marketing department, which involved answering emails from donors and processing donations. This was in the middle of the Democratic presidential primary, so many donors were on one side or the other, with us caught in between.

In the spring of 2008, I interned at the US House Democratic Caucus, which at the time was headed by Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) until he left to serve as President Obama's Chief of Staff. Emanuel (or as everyone called him, Rahm) had led Democratic efforts to win back the majority in 2006, including the election of Rep. Murphy. At the Caucus, I worked with two other interns, first coordinating the annual House Democratic retreat, and then staffing weekly meetings of the Democratic Caucus, which were oftentimes quite interesting, giving me a close up view of the congressional leadership that only a few aides are able to see.

I started this internship on Wednesday, in the wake of Obama's inaugural, with two other interns. After becoming reaquainted with the ways of the Hill, I went with one staffer to a briefing of staff of the Energy and Commerce Committee about the energy portion of the new economic stimulus bill. In the Democratic briefing, after the speaker had been speaking of "the transition team" for a while, somebody had to correct him and say "its the White House now."

Shortly after that, the Congressman met with the interns for about twenty minutes, which I thought was very nice and welcoming.

Today, I worked a half day at the Capitol, arriving at around noon after a morning class. Our Intern coordinator/receptionist was not in today, so another intern and I managed the front of the office. Luckily, the House was out of session today, so it wasn't a very busy day.