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Take Five: Rep. Barbara Lee

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., talks about Golden State hoops,  being a Capitol Hill intern and how her garden grows in the drought. Q : I’m told you enjoy gardening, what do you like to grow when you’re home?  

A :  Well, of course in California we’re really in a drought condition. And early on, when I planted my yard, I wanted to make sure I had drought-resistant plants. So I have lavender, rosemary, a lot of native plants to California, sunflowers, strawberry trees, two olive trees. Plants that are very native and very natural to the environment.  

Q :  With your busy schedule do you ever make it up to Tahoe?  

A : I haven’t been to Tahoe in many, many years. Although I love it, but I’m pretty busy when I’m in California. This is a great district; we have a lot going on and generally we’re doing a lot of great work with constituents.  

Q : You got your master's degree from the University of California Berkley. Are you following their men’s basketball season this year?  

A : Yeah, I don’t get a chance to go to many games though. I had a chance to go to a few Warriors games, my late mother loved [Golden State Warriors Point Guard] Steph Curry and the Warriors. And so do I, so every now and then I get to go to games, but not very often. I’m telling you, we work very hard in this district. And I love my teams.  

Q : You interned on the Hill before becoming a member, what are important things you learned in that experience that you use now in your career?  

A : I interned for a great statesmen and wonderful human being, [former California Rep.] Ron Dellums and it was during the Watergate days, too. I learned that you don’t have to give up your beliefs and your principals to be a good legislature. And I think Ron Dellums really exemplified that, if you look at his record, and hopefully I learned some of those lessons that we have values and we believe in principles that we act on, but we all have to be people who can legislate and promote and get public policy established on belief of people in our country.  

Q : Not policy oriented, what is your favorite thing about being a member of Congress?  

A : I think constituent services, just case work. By profession I’m a social worker, and to be able to have a great staff that provides great constituent services and to see people breathe a sigh of relief when we help them with their Social Security, IRS problems or Medicaid problems. That brings a lot of pleasure, really, and it really makes you feel like you’re touching people’s lives.

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