With a major winter storm on the East Coast canceling flights across the country, two congressmen decided to have a bipartisan adventure on their way back to Washington.
“BIPARTISAN ROAD TRIP: Because of the winter storm U.S. Representative Will Hurd and I are renting a car this morning and driving from San Antonio to D.C. in a marathon 24-hour trip,” O’Rourke posted on Facebook.
On Day One, they drove 970 miles in 20 hours.
They started Day Two of the trip after sleeping at a Fairfield Inn in Rep. Steve Cohen‘s district in Tennessee, according to Hurd, and heading towards Knoxville.
House votes were scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and at 11:45 a.m., D.C. time, the congressmen said the trip is getting dramatic because they were six and a half hours from Washington.
We learned that O’Rourke met his wife Amy on a blind date, that Hurd would like a smart refrigerator, though he’s wary of them, and the locations of some good coffee shops along their route.
At one point, they suggested picking up late night host James Corden and doing Carpool Karaoke, a staple of his show.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn called to wish them well on the trip.
The congressmen also received a call from Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., at one point in the first 12 hours too.
O’Rourke predicted the trip would take 24 hours, the usual time it takes to drive from San Antonio to D.C.
Just after noon, D.C. time, there were more than 300 viewers on the Periscope live stream. The congressmen were asking for lunch suggestions as they sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
For lunch, they had hamburgers from Whataburger, a fast-food chain based in San Antonio.
At 3 p.m., D.C. time, they were still in Texas and called for those watching, including their staffers, to let them know of any traffic delays ahead of them.
Around 6 p.m., D.C. time, they told viewers they can be in Nashville, Tenn., by 1 a.m. local time. But, then O’Rourke turned on Johnny Cash’s “Jackson” to pose another option for where they can drive through that evening. The two sang along with it.
They also called Democratic Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, who was snowed-in in Massachusetts.
“I have never driven that long in my life,” Kennedy said. “Good luck.”
“I have about four hours to try and convince Beto to see a show in Nashville,” Hurd replied.
Kennedy earlier tweeted at them to ask to pick him up.
They offered Alabama Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne a ride on their way through.
O’Rourke informed viewers of a “bipartisan bridge we just crossed” when Hurd told him his iPhone password.
Around 7 p.m., D.C. time, the two stopped at a Best Buy to buy a USB speaker for an iPhone.
The congressmen took questions from viewers, which turned the road trip into a joint, bipartisan town hall. Discussions varied from whether toll roads were taxes to the war on drugs and the issue of young children being sold marijuana.
They disagreed on immigration — Hurd said he believes the U.S. can secure its borders and fix a “broken immigration system” and pushed for foreign investment to solve problems before it comes to our shores. O’Rourke said that people wanting to come to the U.S. is a good problem for the country to have and Hurd agreed.
O’Rourke also stressed his belief that immigrants, especially children, are following rules when they come into the U.S.
A viewer asked for each’s opinion on the Congressional Budget Office report on the Republican health care bill released Monday. Hurd said that increasing choices is the best way to drive down the cost and the stickiest issue is the Medicad expansion. But, he added, “The Affordable Care Act was not making health care more affordable.”
Another asked O’Rourke how he could spend so much time with a person who wants to move people off of insurance.
“He’s probably never going to get to my ideal health care system,” O’Rourke said of Hurd, but that they need to take the conversation back to Washington and work toward getting something that both sides can agree on, adding that nothing will change if they “repeat the political talking points of our two parties.”
Responding to another viewer’s question about Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s anti-immigration comment on Sunday, O’Rourke called it “offensive” and “not keeping up with the decorum of the institution of Congress,” but the conversation detoured to a discussion of whether they should stop for gas before the warning light on the gas gauge came on.
Hurd said he listens to Robert Earl Keen’s “I Gotta Go” every morning and sang along with it in the car.
A viewer who said she is a social worker looking for a job asked for advice from the congressmen in the comment section. Hurd said social workers should work in a congressional district office, which O’Rourke agreed to.
Another viewer asked if Congressional staffers are on a hiring freeze and the congressmen said they didn’t know.
But, O’Rourke said he hopes the freeze ends soon. Hurd said in defense of it: “Part of the freeze is a frustration with things not getting done in the federal government.”
The two plan to continue livestreaming the trip on their Facebook and Periscope accounts and offered to take questions from viewers. They also requested some road trip songs and places to see along the way.
O’Rourke called it the “longest cross-country livestream town hall in the history of the world.”
Before taking off, they got breakfast tacos at Mi Terra Cafe, a 24-hour restaurant in San Antonio.
On Monday, O’Rourke and Hurd had a veterans event together in San Antonio, according to O’Rourke’s Facebook page.
Will and Beto’s Excellent Adventure