Three Takeaways after Spending a Week on Capitol Hill


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

On the week of June 10, I had the opportunity to shadow Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) on Capitol Hill. During this short time, I got to see some of the inner workings of Congress, including parts that are not typically available to the general public. Between the numerous committee hearings I was able to attend, such as the House Oversight and Reform Committee conducting a markup on 13 resolutions or standing on the floor of the House of Representatives while watching the hectic scramble during a two minute voting session consisting of 28 amendments on an appropriations bill, the week was certainly something to behold. 

Through the chaos of it all, there were countless things I was able to take away from the experience. However, some of these lessons stood out more than others. Here were my key takeaways from shadowing my Congresswoman.

  1. Congress Doesn’t Need Another Lawyer. They Need Accountants!

While walking through the Rayburn Building, I came across Congressman Thomas Massie’s office. The second I passed through, the door was open and I saw a debt clock on a mounted television. I sighed at the number and moved on. However, this moment came back to me when I was on the House floor during the vote on the amendments to the appropriations bill previously mentioned.

While some of the amendments didn’t increase federal spending as it just moved money, a notable portion of these amendments were horrendous. For example, House Amendment 332, which was adopted, increases funding for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Education by $4 million. Sadly, this only makes up about .0004% of the spending in the entire bill, which is close to $1 TRILLION. Yep, trillion with a T. Taking all this into consideration, we should take Nikki Haley’s advice: Congress doesn’t need another lawyer. They need accountants! 

  1. Know Your Positions Inside and Out

In the Workforce Protection Subcommittee, a hearing was held on protecting workers’ overtime pay. During this time, Congresswoman Adams (D-NC) showed a graph of the annual salary threshold for overtime pay exemption. This graph was skewed to make the policies under the Trump and Bush administrations appear atrocious. Furthermore, the Obama-era policy was struck down, thus making a key data point invalid. Republicans were able to debunk the graph in a matter of minutes with help from one of the witnesses, Tammy McCutchen, who is a former administrator of the wage and hour division at the U.S. Department of Labor. These kinds of preposterous arguments were used time and time again on the Hill.

This also doesn’t apply just to members of Congress, but rather everyone who works under them. For example, one of Congresswoman Foxx’s staffers got a phone call asking how the congresswoman could help them get their Facebook profile reinstated. Of course, the government has no authority over Facebook, as they are considered to be a platform and not a publisher, so that is simply what the staffer told them. It is surprising how many calls interns and staffers get every day, so they also need to know the congressman’s positions comprehensively. Thus, conservatives need to know every point and counterpoint imaginable for their arguments, no matter the topic or level of employment. 

  1. Network, Network, NETWORK!

You may assume that the only people coming into the offices of congressmen would be lobbyists. However, there were several other people who met with Congresswoman Foxx, including constituents from back home in North Carolina. Two college interns from the House Education and Labor Committee talked with her about their backgrounds, what got them interested in politics, their plans for the future, and their political philosophy. It was great to see current politicians help create and develop the next generation of legislators on Capitol Hill.

Another person I got the chance to meet was the CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty. She and Congresswoman Foxx talked about career education, the PROSPER Act, and much more. I also got to meet many congressmen, including Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL). I also saw but didn’t get the chance to talk to many other legislators such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The chances to network in D.C. are virtually endless. While I had a unique opportunity, it is clear that it really is the People’s House.

Shadowing Congresswoman Foxx on Capitol Hill was undoubtedly awe-inspiring. From punching in her votes on the House floor to meeting people of great importance to our nation, the week gave me a once in a lifetime chance to see the inner workings of Congress. For this, I am beyond grateful to Congresswoman Foxx and her staff as they have given me such a delightful experience. 

Daniel Elmore is a sophomore at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville, North Carolina. He is in the top of his class and is very active in local politics as well as his local food pantry.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Daniel Elmore

Alexander Central High School

Daniel Elmore is a sophomore at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville, North Carolina. He is in the top of his class and is very active in local politics as well as his local food pantry.

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