After several weeks of all the attention being on the campaigns as well as state and local politics, the focus has once again returned to the Hill. In the previous week, Congress reconvened after the midterm elections, trying to wrap up some unfinished business. These sessions happening after elections are special ones called “lame-duck sessions”. This is when the Congress meets after a new Congress has been is elected, but before the next Congress reconvenes in January. Despite this phrase, however, the Congress has quite a busy schedule ahead, as it needs to vote on some crucial issues such as the remaining FY2019 appropriations bills or the new Farm Bill.
But the mood in the Congress has definitely changed. The Democrats have begun to plan how they will take over the role of the majority party in the House, having fierce debates about the leadership positions, especially the new Speaker of the House. The Republicans, on the other hand, are trying to establish their new role as a minority in the House. Since the Republican party has held the majority in the House for the past four terms (since 2010), being in the minority is a completely new field of play for many Representatives and their staff. On both sides, offices have begun to redefine their strategies, meaning there is a lot more meetings to foster or create new networks for influence.
I have written before that DC’s culture as a city of government is based on networking. Every new person you talk to can be a potential connection in the future. Consequently, you quickly get a handle on it. You have a business card in every jacket you wear and LinkedIn becomes the social media of your preference. With Congress back in session, there has also been a lot more events and receptions, which Hill staffers use to connect with representatives from various industries. For an intern on the Hill, this means more opportunities for networking outside the legislative branch as you can attend receptions organized by various organizations and business. I have been able to talk to people that would otherwise be very hard for a recent graduate to meet.
In addition to having the opportunity to expand my network, attending these events helped me work out my profile as a young professional. In Washington, whenever you meet someone new you need to have a sharp and focused elevator pitch. This internship has therefore not only taught me how complicated the legislative branch of the American political system is, or how hands-on American political culture is, — It has also helped me crystallize my future career path.