I pledged to not serve more than three terms, and I came to Washington, D.C., to change the way this town does business. So, on Jan. 3, 2011, I jumped right into my new job with both feet. I quickly realized, however, that time is everything.
In order to try to get a lot done, I adopted a fast-paced, nonstop work schedule that included countless long days and nights. I have found that life in Congress is constant and hectic in Washington and back in my district, which leaves me very little time to sleep, reflect and sometimes even to eat.
During the past year, I have found the hardest challenge is to find the time to accomplish everything I want to achieve while in Congress. There are never enough hours in the day. A typical day for me begins at 6 a.m. when I wake up on the couch in my office. Since day one, I have slept in my office while I am in D.C. This serves as a reminder to me that I am only temporarily in Washington and that my home is back in McHenry, Ill.
After a workout and a shower, I start my day reading the news and preparing for the day ahead. The days are filled with committee hearings, constituent meetings, teletown halls and votes in between other events. A colleague of mine measured that in one day, we walk four to five miles while at work. There is never a dull moment and rarely a second to catch my breath.
My day ends late at night back in my office. One of the perks of sleeping in my office is that I am able to get rid of any distractions that are present during office hours and focus on my work. I have learned that time is only working against me. I use every minute of every day to accomplish what I was elected to do.
As soon as Congress is in recess, I am back in Illinois and in front of my constituents. I spend my weekends hosting town hall meetings, holding events called “Cup of Joe with Joe,” attending local events and meeting with constituents. These events give me the opportunity to hear the voices, ideas and concerns of the people back home and the ability to share with them everything that is happening in Washington.
Whether in Washington or back in Illinois, my focus this first year has been on serving my constituents and letting their voices and opinions be heard.
I knew this job would be challenging because Washington is broken, and I came here on a mission to fix it. I don’t want to make a 20-year career out of this, so my days are filled with a sense of urgency. I also knew that I would ruffle a few feathers along the way, even within my own party, and that can make life here tough. I have voted again and again against every bill that increased spending, raised taxes and stunted job creation. I have also repeatedly opposed any short-term funding gimmicks and any attempt to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
I hit the ground running last January, and I expect this next year to be more of the same. Away we go!
Rep. Joe Walsh serves on the Homeland Security; Oversight and Government Reform; and Small Business committees.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.