Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Vote

Sorry no pictures for this one.

This past Sunday, the House voted to pass the Senate's version of the healthcare bill, which Obama signed into law yesterday (They also passed a reconciliation bill to be sent to the Senate, which has, after some rewording, been sent to the President for his signature). Whether you supported healthcare or not, Sunday was clearly an historic day. The Hill was flooded with protesters. Apparently that weekend, the House Office Buildings were even filled with protesters as some of you may have seen from the news coverage.

On Sunday, I had hoped to go to Capitol Hill to see the vote, but with a research paper due on Tuesday and lots of reading due Monday, I decided to not go and head into the CMC office to get to work. I was joined there by Bukola, Angela and Jake. We were following the House debate on C-Span on the office TV as we worked on our papers. We ordered pizza and picked up snacks for a late night.

At about 8pm, I got a voicemail from my supervisor at work asking if I wanted to come in to watch the vote. At that point I was regretting my decision to not go(along with some badgering from Angela saying I should go), so I saw this as the perfect opportunity to correct that initial decision.

I hurried back home to get my staff ID and then grabbed a cab to the Capitol. When I arrived, there were still a lot of protesters. They were trying to get as close to the House chamber as possible. I was lucky, because with my staff ID, I got to go to the staff gallery, while people with gallery passes had to instead go wait in a longer line.

The staff line was still very long and I was fortunate enough to find one of the other staffers from my office who was also waiting. It turns out that they were sort of cycling staffers through the gallery, allowing groups to wait there for 10-15 minutes and then having them get in the back of the line. I first got in to the staff gallery with about 5 minutes left in debate for both sides. The gallery was packed and the floor was packed as well. As the people in my office said the next day, it seemed like any staffer with floor privileges was there that night. After about 10 minutes they cycled us out of the gallery. We got back into line, and we actually made the cut for being allowed to get back into line by about 10 people.

It turns out we missed the Pelosi speech and the fiery "Hell no" speech from Boehner. We got back in right as they were starting the first vote. It turned out I got to sit about 7 or 8 seats from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The gallery was also very rowdy, with the person next to me yelling out when the Speaker Pro-tem asked for the "yays and nays."

One of the more controversial moments was when the GOP side brought up a motion to recommit that included the Stupak amendment. Steny Hoyer was clearly caught by surprise and had aides running around frantically trying to understand what was in the motion. I was also in the gallery for the controversial "baby killer" comment during Rep. Stupak's speech.

After the Speaker announced the final tally and after sticking around to watch a couple more extensions (apparently I was the last staff member left in the gallery), I exited the Capitol to head back to the CMC office. It turned out I was taking the same exit as many of the members and got to sort of "walk the ropeline" past a group of cheering supporters. By coincidence, I also ran into Rep. Schakowsky, my boss, and got to talk to her for a little bit before heading back to the office.

After that, it was a cab ride back to 1101 17th Street for a late night working on my CMC homework.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Office

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

On the Washington Program you will be spending lots of time at the program office. I will give you a little run through of what the office consists of. The office is located at 1101 L Street NW and as you can see from the above picture we are in suite 604.

Everybody is given a key to the office, and every housing group is given a fob, which you swipe in with to get 24/7 access to the building. You will need the fob to access the building and elevators after 6pm and on weekends. As Meredith and I found out, you can't cheat the elevators by taking the stairs up as those require a key which we don't have access to. Just a word of advice, if you find yourself locked in the stairwell, just bang on the door until someone comes and opens it.
As you know the program is open to students from all of the colleges, and it is clearly displayed as soon as you walk in on the left wall. Under the different college's signs are some couches and chairs.

As you walk in, immediately in front of you is the student lounge with two computers and a table to work at. You can see it in the first picture as well. This is a great place to get work done both before and after class. The computers are technically part of the CMC network and are serviced by the CMC IT crew, but unfortunately you can't use your own sign in or connect to the U Drive directly, but you can still connect to the U Drive via the internet as you can from any off campus computer. These computers also print to the office's copier/printer/scanner/faxer which I have more pictures of further down.

Right outside the student lounge and Dr. Spalding's office are some more couches and chairs and of course the CMC campus would not be complete without President Gann's photo on the wall.

If you keep walking past the couches and chairs and Dr. Spalding's office you will enter the main room where you will have classes. There are some extra tables in the back so when there are bigger groups, the rectangle of tables can be made larger. In addition to having class here, this is a great place to do work on the weekends and after work. I actually prefer it to the office. The only downside is that there is only one reacheable outlet to plug in your laptop from this set up of tables. The chairs are a tad bit squeaky, but are very comfortable and lean pretty far back.

On the other side of the classroom are the above couch/chairs. You might not be able to tell from the picture but those leather chairs are recliners and are quite comfortable. In this area is also a photo album with the pictures from past groups as well as a bookshelf full of magazines and other literature, mostly on international relations.

The final room houses the copier/printer/scanner/faxer, which has had some trouble this semester with paper jams, but now seems to be all better. If you turn left when you enter the room, you will see the fridge, sink, and water cooler as you an see below. It is a great place to store drinks and food for late nights working on papers or applications.

The CMC facilities in DC really are great. They are welcome place for class, schoolwork or even a nap to re-energize you.

P.S. Sorry I don't have a picture of the outside of the building, I will try to get one up soon.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Welcome Fall Semester Students

Congrats Fall 2010 students. Enjoy the next couple of months as you find and internship and housing. Michael Kotler and I (Carlos Rivas) are here to help answer your questions relating to how we are getting the most of our DC experience. If you have an idea for a blog post that would benefit the whole group, email us and we will put it up the response on the blog. This can even be anonymous, just search for our names in the student email address book and we promise to have a response in a reasonable time.


Spring Break

Something that you can appreciate while being on the East Coast for a semester is the accessibility of travel. Los Angeles to San Francisco takes 6 hours by car. DC to New York under 4 hours by bus and for $30 round trip. Had I been in LA the trip would have been longer and a lot more expensive. Not all students take spring break off when in DC, and now I have dozens of emails to get through now that I am back in the office. I spent three days in New York, getting to do all of the touristy stuff like visiting Central Park, the Met, Times Square and eating at great restaurants. It is truly a great city, and has a better transportation network than LA. But, I did get the bulk of the rain storm last weekend that hit the East Coast. While you are in DC you have to take advantage of your location, not just in the district, but on the East Coast. Next city to visit: Philly.

Friday, March 19, 2010

President's Day Part 2

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

Sorry I've been so slow with the posts lately, I'll try to keep more up to date.

After we finished at Fogo de Chao, Ben H., Isaac and I went to the National Archives to look around. It turned out we picked a good time because February was the last month they would allow photos in the rotunda where all the important documents were stored, Deceleration of Independence, Constitution, Articles of Confederation, etc. Apparently it has become too hard to enforce the rule banning flash photography.

So all the photos turned out a little dark, but I figure that dark photos are better than no photos. In addition to the documents I mentioned earlier, the archives also house the Bill of Rights, the UN Charter, the Emancipation proclamation and more.

It was a great way to unwind before I had to go back to work after 10 days in a row off.