Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recess Part 2

As always you can go to the group's flickr page for more pictures.

This past week was the second and final week of the Spring Congressional Recess. It was another week of a more laid back Capitol Hill. Not nearly as many lobbyists and interest groups visiting the office and many more constituents and tourists in town to see the second week of the cherry blossoms. With not as much to do in the office, one of the staffers took the other intern and myself around for a tour of the Capitol. I have walked around quite a bit so I've seen quite a lot, but I still hadn't had been able to walk to the Floor. You are required to go to the floor with a full-time staffer who has to be carrying a special card given to each congressional office. We go in through the Speaker's lobby. Even though the Capitol is decorated with tons of old statues, mirrors, columns, and marble floors, I was very impressed with how well decorated the Speaker's lobby was. It had what looked to be about 8 chandeliers, high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows and is guarded by Capitol police. We had to give up all our electronics and photography is prohibited on the floor (although when I was in the gallery for the healthcare vote, there were several Democratic members taking pictures). The floor looks pretty large on TV, but when you're standing in the middle of it, it actually looks very small. It feels like it wouldn't even hold all the members. For the State of the Union they have to bring in extra seats to put in the aisles. We hung out for about 10 minutes, sat in the chairs in the first row, but unfortunately, we were not allowed to go onto the Speaker's Podium where the President speaks from during the State of the Union.

After we left the Floor, the staffer took us through a couple of tunnels and a set of stairs that led out to best view I've seen so far in Washington. It was a view of the mall directly below where the President is sworn in. It was a gorgeous spring day, and another reason why Recess is so enjoyable.

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