Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, The Fun You Can Have!

Today was Capitol Hill day for my class at the National Defense University. Luckily it was not too terribly hot like it had been last week because we started with a mid day walk from Union Station, past the Capitol building, and a couple blocks more to a restaurant for lunch. Then I had to scramble off and find Jay Inslee's office for a quick courtesy visit. He was between meetings but took the time to shake my hand and we chatted about the military and my upcoming assignment to Djibouti. Very nice, engaging fellow. Makes me wish he wasn't a Democrat.

Then I spent some time in the Senate visitors gallery and watched some proceedings regarding the Transparency and Disclosure Act. Sitting above the Senate floor is like Disneyland for a political science geek like myself. At first there's just some staffers shuffling paperwork around at the various tables up front. Then John Kerry walks through and goes into some room behind the chamber. Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid come in and discuss something for a while. Then the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell gets up and starts in on how awful the bill is that they're considering. Then Schumer gets up and talks, without looking at his notes, for fifteen minutes about how wonderful the bill is. Then, hold on to your hats folks, Senator Reid calls for a roll call vote for cloture! I'm thinking: AWESOME!

Before you know it, all the Senators start filing into the room, chatting amongst themselves, and getting the clerk's attention as he reads the roll. It's funny, but in the Senate they don't have fancy electronic voting gadgets. They just hold up their hand to the clerk and point up or down as they're walking by. My Senators, Cantwell and Murray, spent some time talking with each other before Sen. Cantwell started messing with her Blackberry and walked off. Al Franken walked in, milled around, voted, and left. Of course, the highlight of the afternoon was John McCain walking in, voting, and walking out. Fourteen seconds of my life I'll never forget.

With all this action in the Senate, I figured going over to 'that other body' would just be a let down. So, it was time to get the metro back to the hotel.

What a day!

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