Monday, July 26, 2010

EAOP Graduate Wendy Stott's 1st Report on Her Summer Fellowship with the Congressional Progressive Caucus

A Report  on My Summer Fellowship with the US Congressional Progressive Caucus
by Wendy Stott

I can hardly believe that I have already been here for almost two months.

DC as a whole is great. It’s very hot and humid, but I love taking public transportation to work every day (even if it isn’t always incredibly smooth).  It’s also great to be somewhere where there are so many people who are passionate about issues. Also, I have always been a bit of a political nerd so being in the thick of the political scene is really fun.

The past few weeks have gone by in a whirlwind.  From the beginning, I have had the task of updating the daily email that goes out to the staff of the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) members. The email has the “Dear Colleagues” (which are letters from the members requesting support for legislation or events, briefings, etc.) of other CPC members, and there are always new things to put in, take out and update.  Coordinating this daily communication has oriented me quickly to the work of the Caucus and introduced me to the variety of issues and initiatives that CPC members are addressing.  I have also done a lot to prep for the CPC member and staff meetings, which are every other week. Andrea, the Caucus’s executive director, has been taking me to other relevant meetings as well. I also have extensively updated the CPC website, which has been a great learning experience for me. Check it out at

My favorite things that I have done thus far include a letter that I drafted on behalf of the CPC chairs  to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic leadership asking the Speaker to support legislation to create jobs.  I also researched and wrote up a one-pager on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (a.k.a. the Debt Commission) which was convened by President Obama earlier this year to bring the national debt down to a more manageable level. The informational one-pager was just meant to give the basics to the CPC members on what the commission is supposed to do, how, and when, and who sits on the commission. Well at the CPC meeting, a member complimented the document and said that he hadn’t seen all the information put together like that before and it was incredibly helpful just to have such a great summary and background.  Of course, Andrea and I were the only people in the room who knew that I was actually the one being complimented.  But all the same, it still meant a lot.  I have continued to work on this CPC issue, and we are planning to schedule briefings soon in order to bring attention to the fact that entitlement cuts will likely come from this commission, which could end up being even more destructive to our slowly recovering economy.  What we need to be doing right now is putting people to work, not taking away government support.

I have also been able to work these past couple of weeks on the proposed Resolution Copper Mine that mining multinationals Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are trying to create in the Tonto National Forest.  Rep. Grijalva is opposed to the mine, and as Chair for the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, he has asked me to provide him with background information on the issue to assist in the hearings that will be forthcoming.  It is great to continue the research and advocacy on mining that I began during my coursework at Antioch.  My Advocacy Clinic projects and our Environmental Justice field studies trip prepared me well to take on this challenge.

I will provide more details on life in DC and on Capitol Hill in my next report!