Heard on the Hill

Schedulers Think Their Title Should Be ‘Superman’

Multitasking staffers see themselves as office quarterbacks

Staffers in congressional offices have all eyes on their schedulers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The schedulers in Capitol Hill offices say a “thank you” every now and then would be nice.

A handful of House schedulers, from both sides of the aisle, spoke anonymously with Heard on the Hill about the many moving parts of their job, which, judging by the name, sounds like they only manage a schedule.

But that’s not the case.

“You do everything,” one said.

Some schedulers say they have explored other names for their positions: A couple said “director of operations” would be most appropriate; other suggestions included “executive assistant,” “director of life operations,” and “superman.”

Members of Congress do have pretty hectic schedules between breakfasts, hearings, media interviews, constituent services, lunches, and — oh, right — voting. When they successfully get everything done in a day, they can attribute much of that to their “supermen.”

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“[My job] is underrated,” one scheduler said.

Another said, “You’re the quarterback of the office because you need to know how to do every position, and need to keep calm.”

That last part might be the hardest part of the job, according to some schedulers. It involves being able to say “no” to everyone from people off the Hill — stakeholders to the White House and everything in between — to your colleagues in the office.

Schedulers have to be flexible and be both the office’s gatekeeper and scapegoat. 

Oftentimes, schedulers have to deal with their bosses’ moods, given their proximity to them. 

“You know the boss on a personal level, so you can gauge his or her reaction to things,” one said.

They are the ones who can walk right into the members’ offices, get to know their families, balance what’s happening on the campaign side, and organize the members’ travels to their districts.

And missteps are magnified.

“You’re the center of the office and it’s very visible when you make mistakes,” a scheduler said.

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On a congressional session day, these multitaskers can get as many as 500 emails.

While one scheduler said working weekends happens “all the time,” another said working on Sunday was a regular thing only when the session starts on Monday. Others said they occasionally or rarely work over the weekend.

Some schedulers were expected to pick up their bosses’ calls, even if it was 11 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday, and to always have their work phones on them for emergencies.

But one scheduler said she is generally aware of what’s ahead and can anticipate if she’ll get a call on a weekend.

So what step on the career ladder does this job prepare you for?

One said a deputy chief of staff job would make sense as a next step. Others suggested schedulers would have to move off the Hill to an outside job like an executive assistant role.

One scheduler said the job does open more doors than he originally thought, while another thought it was hard to move out of the position.

HOH’s last question for the schedulers was simple: “Are you happy?”

“I fell in and out of love with it,” one said.

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