Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Lou Correa

California Democrat says ‘downtime is nonexistent’ in this Congress

California Rep. Lou Correa says people tell him he came to Congress at the wrong time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Freshman Rep. Lou Correa, 59, a California Democrat, talks about advice he received from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, sleeping in his office, and making friends in Congress.

Q: What has surprised you about Congress so far?

A: I think most people consider Congress to be a real honor, kind of a dream job, to get here. What has surprised me is just the vastness of the federal government. It’s a huge job. It’s massive. The subject matter is so varied. The topics that are so important, the decisions you’re making touch a lot of folks and shape public policy significantly. So it’s a huge, huge job.  The vastness of it continues to surprise me. I knew it was going to be big, but I guess the old adage of drinking water out of a firehose is probably pretty correct.

[Take Five: Charlie Crist]

Q: What are your hobbies when you find downtime?

A: It’s very rare that I have any downtime. Downtime is nonexistent. My big surprise is not only the vastness but the time demand. I was in the state legislature and it does not even begin to compare to the time demand here. I think every moment of your life here is spoken for. And even then, I’ve got to struggle to fit more things into my life here. People tell me I came at the wrong time because of a new president with a whole different agenda.

I asked [Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy, I served with him in Sacramento, I asked him a couple months ago, “You know, Kevin, I just don’t have enough time to handle all this stuff. You work all day and you’ve still got a bunch of stuff you got to do. You just can’t get to it. So what’s the answer? What’s the secret here?” He said, “Simple — sleep less.” He asked for my hobbies and I think my hobby is trying to make as much time as I can for my family — my kids are still growing up. And the gym really is my hobby, just try to keep everything balanced.

[Take Five: Adriano Espaillat]

Q: I hear you live in your office — how is that going?

A: You know, it’s good. The beauty about living in what I call the Four Seasons Hotel with about 120 other guys and gals is it’s really just an efficiency move because you don’t have any commute, so you probably get an hour and a half more work done every day. It also helps you build relationships real fast.

Correa says he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. most mornings, sometimes even earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Correa says he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. most mornings, sometimes even earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Q: What is your morning routine here and how does it differ from when you’re in California?

A: For the first few weeks, when I would wake up, I didn’t know where I was, what time it was. It took me a few minutes to orient myself to figure out what the heck was going on. Now it’s just a matter of my sleeping patterns are still a little bit off so I wake up really early. As it is, I wake up at 3:30 and go to the gym but now I wake up sometimes at 2 in the morning and so that causes a little grief.

[Take Five: Drew Ferguson]

Q: Anything you’ve noticed that goes on in the halls in the middle of the night?

A: Actually it’s pretty peaceful. … Most of us are asleep in the middle of the night. No funny stories other than one of my goals was to get to meet people and to make friends real fast and that’s working really well. Every day you meet somebody new at the gym. Every day you make friends with somebody new.

[Take Five: Al Lawson]

Quick hits

Last book you read: I read a lot of newspapers.

Last movie you saw: “The Accountant”

Favorite song of all time: My two favorite bands are Chicago and Steppenwolf.

Role model: John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman.

Closest to in Congress: The California delegation, both Democrats and Republicans.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.