Rebecca Gale

Ready for Congress 3.0?

The 2016 election year is almost upon us, but “Congress is largely still stuck in the 1970s,” argues Bradford Fitch, president of the Congressional Management Foundation.

Fitch, a former Hill staffer, would like to help shepherd his former employer into the modern era — “Congress 3.0,” he calls it. He thinks his organization can make some headway by utilizing two multiyear grants they were just awarded to study up to 12 congressional offices, survey the constituents who interact with those offices, and come up with a best practice toolkit. “Congress 1.0 was your ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’” Fitch said, a simpler era symbolized by the 1939 Jimmy Stewart film. Congress 2.0, Fitch continued, was defined by the growth in congressional offices, both in staff size and diversity, in the 1970s.

Ready for Congress 3.0?

The 2016 election year is almost upon us, but “Congress is largely still stuck in the 1970s,” argues Bradford Fitch, president of the Congressional Management Foundation.  

Fitch, a former Hill staffer, would like to help shepherd his former employer into the modern era — "Congress 3.0," he calls it. He thinks his organization can make some headway by utilizing two multiyear grants they were just awarded to study up to 12 congressional offices, survey the constituents who interact with those offices, and come up with a best practice toolkit. “Congress 1.0 was your ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’” Fitch said, a simpler era symbolized by the 1939 Jimmy Stewart film. Congress 2.0, Fitch continued, was defined by the growth in congressional offices, both in staff size and diversity, in the 1970s.  

Holiday Party Time Kicks Off

It’s holiday party time, and every trade organization, lobbying shop and PR firm wants to ply members and their staff with booze, food and gifts.

“This is a happy hour and cocktail reception city,” said Rodell Mollineau, a former Senate staffer who is now a partner at Rokk Solutions. And none more so than the holiday season.

Holiday Party Time Kicks Off

It's holiday party time, and every trade organization, lobbying shop and PR firm wants to ply members and their staff with booze, food and gifts.  

“This is a happy hour and cocktail reception city,” said Rodell Mollineau, a former Senate staffer who is now a partner at Rokk Solutions. And none more so than the holiday season. In compliance with House ethics rules, edible fare at such events tend to be finger foods. The rules allow people who work on the Hill to attend receptions and partake in “[f]ood or refreshments of a nominal value offered other than as a part of a meal.” The Senate also allows attendance at a widely attended event in which food is provided to every attendee.  

Vote for a Refugees Capitol Quip!

— It might have been safer to take our chances with the sharks. — Just our luck. We arrived during a presidential campaign. — Couldn't they at least abridge this path to nowhere? — Where's the TSA Pre-Check Line?  

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog Saturday, and in the following print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.

From Sex Worker to Hill Staffer

“Drink a beer, smoke a joint. But lay off the crack, it will rot your teeth.”

That was the advice Natasha Guynes remembers receiving from her estranged father while she was high on crack and cocaine. At only 20 years old, Guynes had wanted to get as far away as possible from her family in Louisiana. Without any way to support herself, she turned to sex trafficking, and to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

Where the Drinkers Are in Congress

The congressional drinking culture is alive and well, helped along by the demands of the job.

According to a survey of congressional staff, nearly half, or 47 percent, of staffers attend social events for work either once or twice a week. Those events are predominantly serving alcoholic beverages. Perhaps that helped lead to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the District of Columbia with a slightly higher percentage of adult binge drinkers (22 percent) as compared to the national average of 16 percent.

From Sex Worker to Hill Staffer
 

“Drink a beer, smoke a joint. But lay off the crack, it will rot your teeth.”  

That was the advice Natasha Guynes remembers receiving from her estranged father while she was high on crack and cocaine. At only 20 years old, Guynes had wanted to get as far away as possible from her family in Louisiana. Without any way to support herself, she turned to sex trafficking, and to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. At her low point, she realized that the advice her father had given her about laying off crack was "sick in itself,” said Guynes, whose drug and alcohol use landed her in a Washington, D.C., hospital over Thanksgiving weekend in 2001.

Where the Drinkers Are in Congress

The congressional drinking culture is alive and well, helped along by the demands of the job.  

According to a survey of congressional staff, nearly half, or 47 percent, of staffers attend social events for work either once or twice a week. Those events are predominantly serving alcoholic beverages. Perhaps that helped lead to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the District of Columbia with a slightly higher percentage of adult binge drinkers (22 percent) as compared to the national average of 16 percent. The CDC classifies "binge drinking " as occurring when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. The CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System ranked D.C. in its "third tertile," sharing a similar "dark red" ranking with North Dakota and ahead of only Nebraska at 22 percent and Wisconsin at 26 percent of binge drinkers.  

Congresswoman Left for Dead at Jonestown Recalls the Massacre, 37 Years Later

Rep. Jackie Speier knows exactly how it feels to be left for dead.

On Nov. 18, 1978, she was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana, South America. Her boss, Rep. Leo J. Ryan and four others lay dead nearby, killed by gunfire as they tried to escape Jonestown, the commune built by cult leader Jim Jones.

Vote for Your Favorite Honeymooners Capitol Quip!

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The finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your vote:

— He just updated his Facebook Status to “It’s Complicated.”
— Do you think we should knock?
— If I were you, I’d throw in the towels.
— If this is the “honeymoon,” I hate to see what the marriage is going to look like!
— Maybe we should come back later.

Vote for Your Favorite Honeymooners Capitol Quip!

— He just updated his Facebook Status to "It's Complicated." — Do you think we should knock? — If I were you, I'd throw in the towels. — If this is the "honeymoon," I hate to see what the marriage is going to look like! — Maybe we should come back later.  

The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog Saturday, and in the following print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.

Congresswoman Left for Dead at Jonestown Recalls the Massacre, 37 Years Later

Rep. Jackie Speier knows exactly how it feels to be left for dead.

On Nov. 18, 1978, she was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana, South America. Her boss, Rep. Leo J. Ryan and four others lay dead nearby, killed by gunfire as they tried to escape Jonestown, the commune built by cult leader Jim Jones.

Congresswoman Left for Dead at Jonestown Recalls the Massacre, 37 Years Later
 

Rep. Jackie Speier knows exactly how it feels to be left for dead.

On Nov. 18, 1978, she was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana, South America. Her boss, Rep. Leo J. Ryan and four others lay dead nearby, killed by gunfire as they tried to escape Jonestown, the commune built by cult leader Jim Jones.

Congresswoman Left for Dead at Jonestown Recalls the Massacre, 37 Years Later

Rep. Jackie Speier knows exactly how it feels to be left for dead.

On Nov. 18, 1978, she was shot five times on a remote airstrip in Guyana, South America. Her boss, Rep. Leo J. Ryan and four others lay dead nearby, killed by gunfire as they tried to escape Jonestown, the commune built by cult leader Jim Jones.

Finding That Committee Staffer Spot

Ah, the joys of working in a personal office: those unexpected “drop-by” visitors, a daily interaction with an elected official, even the chance to learn the legislative ropes vis-a-vis writing stacks of constituent mail. But what happens when a staffer wants to tackle a particular legislative issue and make the leap to become a committee staffer? Hill Navigator discusses.

Finding That Committee Staffer Spot

Ah, the joys of working in a personal office: those unexpected “drop-by” visitors, a daily interaction with an elected official, even the chance to learn the legislative ropes vis-a-vis writing stacks of constituent mail. But what happens when a staffer wants to tackle a particular legislative issue and make the leap to become a committee staffer? Hill Navigator discusses.  

Maryland Residents Stand to Gain on Paid Leave

Following the path of D.C.’s ambitious proposed paid leave policy, federal workers who live in Maryland might also see a change to their paid leave benefits. Maryland Del. Ariana Kelly, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation in January to allow federal workers who work in D.C. and live in Maryland to opt-in to a state insurance pool and receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits.

The D.C. Council recently unveiled paid leave legislation that would provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave for Washington, D.C., residents, including those who work for the federal government. Non-residents who work for private companies based in D.C. would also be covered, but federal workers who live in Maryland, Virginia or another state would not. Because of this, two employees working side-by-side in the same federal office could wind up with wildly diverging paid leave plans.

Maryland Residents Stand to Gain on Paid Leave

Following the path of D.C.’s ambitious proposed paid leave policy , federal workers who live in Maryland might also see a change to their paid leave benefits. Maryland Del. Ariana Kelly, a Democrat, plans to introduce legislation in January to allow federal workers who work in D.C. and live in Maryland to opt-in to a state insurance pool and receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave benefits.  

The D.C. Council recently unveiled paid leave legislation that would provide up to 16 weeks of paid leave for Washington, D.C., residents, including those who work for the federal government. Non-residents who work for private companies based in D.C. would also be covered, but federal workers who live in Maryland, Virginia or another state would not. Because of this, two employees working side-by-side in the same federal office could wind up with wildly diverging paid leave plans.  

Vote for Your Favorite Waiter-Speaker Capitol Quip!

CapitolQuip-11-02-15

The finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your vote: