It's been awhile since the last update, so I probs should give you all an idea of what's going on here in DC.
Weekends in DC are a lot of fun. It helps that there's so much to do here. During the day there are plenty of museums to go to and at night there's always something cool to think of doing. A few weekends ago we went Eastern Market, which was really cool. There are a lot of artisans, farmers, and other food vendors who go there, so there's so much cool stuff to see. We probably walked around for a good hour just looking at all the displays of food, pictures/paintings, and crafts there. The food is probably the best to see because it's really fresh and there's a really interesting selection. My faves were the butcher stand that had a ton of meat on display (including parts of the animal that I didn't know were edible), and the fish stand that had a lot of cool seafood on display (like a monstrous octopus!). There's also this really good breakfast place there called "Market Lunch" (they serve breakfast and lunch, but they're well known for their breakfasts). I probably had some of the best pancakes and crabcakes I've had in awhile. Afterwards we went to the newly re-opened American History Museum, which was a lot of fun. I'm an American history buff, so I really enjoyed it. The exhibits were interactive and really interesting to read. I liked the Presidents exhibit and the Pop Culture section (they had Kermit the Frog, Colbert and Oscar the Grouch on display). They also had a really cool exhibit on the Inaguration, which had some up close photos of Obama (and even a shot of the Jonas Brothers, an important part of this year's festivities).
That night we went on a late-night monument tour, which I love doing. Like I've said before, nothing beats seeing the monuments at night. Not only are they gorgeous along a dark backdrop (which lets you appreciate them so much more), there aren't as many crazy tourists around (which is ALWAYS a plus). We went to the Lincoln, Vietnam, World War II and Washington. From there a few of us decided to go to the Capitol rather than the Jefferson. If you follow this blog, you know that I LOVE the Capitol, especially at night. Lots of reflection occurred that night.
Probably my favorite weekend stop is Ben's Chili Bowl, which is an historic African American restaurant. Their chili dogs are AMAZING. I've gone twice so far this year, the most recent was last weekend so I could eat my feelings and consul myself after the Red Wings loss (it's a touchy subject, don't ask). Another good place I like to go to grab food on weekends is this pizza place called Jumbo Slice, which is where I spent last Saturday night. Their slices are HUGE, stretching from my hand to my elbow. I can barely finish a slice. Here are some pics to give you an idea:
Pure greasy goodness!
Last weekend I also ventured to the Natural History Museum with Ben. I'm not going to lie, the museum is cool because they have a lot of cool things on display (like dinosaurs), but it was hard for me to get into. Natural history isn't something I'm really interested in, so the exhibits weren't too exciting to me. While at the American History Museum I would read everything, I was alright skipping over stuff and not reading anything at the Natural History Museum. Oh well.
On the work front, things have been really good. I've been going to a lot of Congressional hearings for our staff, which I enjoy because the topics are really interesting and it gives me something to do. Last week I went to a House Appropriations Committee hearing that dealt with Commerce, Science and Justice spending, a Senate hearing with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on health priorities, and a House Small Business Committee hearing. My bosses also take me to their meetings as well. I went to a really interesting one with lobbyists from the different sports leagues that touched on issues these leagues are concerned with.
I've been working on meeting legislators as well. Last week I ran into Sen. John Ensign, who I worked for last summer. I reminded him that I worked for him last summer at the NRSC and we had a brief chat. Clearly he remembered me...
On Tuesday a bunch of us went to Debbie Stabenow's constituent hour. We were the last group to get in, which was nice, but that meant a long wait before we could actually see the Senator. During this time we awkwardly chatted with her staff, which I'm sure you can imagine was a party (though a kid I went to high school is on her staff, so I talked to him for a bit). When we finally got to see her, we made small talk then posed for a pic. Naturally I stood next to her. After we took the pic she turned to look at us and I noticed that my name tag was sticking to her arm (or chest, I'm really not sure)! I was wearing my bag when I put the tag on, and I think it came loose when I took the bag off for the pic. Obviously it ended up on the Senator. Oops. Imagine how awkward/embarrassing it was when I noticed and then lunged at the Senator to take it off her! She's a really nice lady, so she laughed it off, along with the rest of us. Here's the scene (one from the Senator's camera, one from mine):
If you look closely, you can see the name tag coming off me and sticking to her.
On Wednesday I went to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on the healthcare-reform bill. On my way I saw a bunch of Senators (but didn't talk to them because they were Dems): Burris, Schumer, Brown, Tom Udall, and Reid. I also saw Vice President Joe Biden as he was leaving the building! Capitol Police and Secret Service were everywhere, but there were nice enough to let a bunch of interns hang around to see him. As for the actual hearing, I decided to go because healthcare reform is a huge deal right now and the HELP Committee was marking-up its proposal. Naturally, given the significance of this, I had to be there. It was crazy because in front of each Senator was a 1-1 1/2 foot tall stack of paper that was the bill and proposed amendments! In the two hours I was there, they didn't even get to the bill because each Senator decided to make a long-winded opening statement (Judd Gregg referred to the proposal as a mix between Rube Goldberg and Karl Marx, which Barbara Mikulski rebutted by calling the current system a mix of Adam Smith, Darth Vader, and Revenge of the Body Snatchers). By the time I left, they had only gotten through 1/3 of the committee. And we wonder why Congress takes so long...
That night I went to a few receptions, one of them with my boss. Given her job, she pretty much knows the entire Michigan delegation, so she was able to introduce me to Reps. Vern Ehlers and Dale Kildee. Kildee was really nice and remembered my name by the end (that, or he was looking at my nametag...which I made sure was securely on me). As I've said before, I love going to receptions because there's TONS of free food. Not a bad deal at all.
In other news, for those who follow politics, you might have heard of the latest scandal, which involves Sen. John Ensign and an extramarital affair. Yes, this is the same John Ensign who I worked for last year and who I mentioned earlier in this post. Pretty weird. The sad part was working for him at the NRSC when this happened and actually worked with the son of the woman whom he was having this affair with. Crazy stuff. This has been dominating my news cycle for the past day.
Anyways, that's all for now. More updates will come soon.