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.