Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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

September 2, 2010

So I have now been in DC for about three and a half months. It is still hot and humid, just to let you know.

August has been slow as the Congress is in recess and the members are working in their districts. I have continued to update the CPC website, always looking for new op-eds by CPC members and articles for “CPC in the News.” I have also drafted several items for the Caucus, including talking points for a jobs press conference, press releases, CPC Budget Principles, and a letter to President Obama recommending Elizabeth Warren to serve as Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

The big issue that has been my continued interest for the past couple of months is the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (a.k.a. the Debt Commission). I told you in my last posting that I wrote a one-pager that turned out to be quite helpful at least for one Representative. Well, the co-chairs of the commission, former Senator Alan Simpson and White House Chief of Staff for President Clinton, Erskine Bowles, met with the CPC last month. In preparation for this meeting, I drafted an update to the previous one-pager which had information on what has been happening with the commission in the interim, as well as main points of which the CPC should be aware and possible issues to address with the co-chairs that would affect the CPC mission. I also got to sit in on that meeting, which was really great. I learned a lot about both of the co-chairs and their views, as well as social security, which as you may know, has been a disputed topic in regards to this commission.

Finally, I have been working on an issue that is important to me. Prior to my time here in DC, I worked as a veterinary technician for a total of three years, including all through grad school at Antioch. With my background in veterinary issues, I am hyper-aware of over-the-counter products that are sold claiming that they are “flea and tick treatments” but in actuality are nothing more than organophosphate poisons that have seriously harmed and killed many animals. During a recent visit to the clinic at which I used to work, I witnessed the death of another beautiful animal from one of these “treatments”. He was a beautiful male tabby cat who looked almost exactly like one of my beloved cats. I fell in love with him as soon as he came in the door. Watching him die, despite excellent nursing and medical care, was just an incredibly difficult thing to do.

I returned to DC knowing that I am in a position in which I can try to do something about these “treatments” being sold to unsuspecting consumers. So, I wrote up the beginnings of a bill to ban the use of organophosphates in pet products. The Legislative Assistant in the office who handles animal issues and the Legislative Director both support the bill and feel that it will have the backing necessary to at least get drafted. So, I mostly wrote a bill. It will be controversial, as the companies that make the products won’t want to discontinue making money. But hopefully animal lovers will give it the momentum and support it needs to pass so that helpless animals will no longer be harmed by the products. But even if it isn’t passed or never comes close to getting passed, if it even saves one life from a pet caretaker knowing the danger from hearing about the controversial bill, it will be worth every second I spent working on it and then some.

My time here at the CPC is coming to an end in the next couple of days. This was an incredible experience for which I am incredibly grateful. I was welcomed in this office by its many staff members as well as the Congressman, and I was able to work on interesting and timely issues, as well as issues important to me.

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