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Posts in "After Hours"
August 12, 2014
Think your past can come back to haunt you when searching for a job on Capitol Hill? What if it includes a less-than-stellar record that hasn’t been scrubbed? Hill Navigator discusses.
Q. If I have a misdemeanor public intoxication on my record from college, will I be able to get a job on Capitol Hill?
A. Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: It depends. Most offices on Capitol Hill don’t do background checks, and those that would go through the trouble are looking for felonies or anti-American activities, not the kind that will earn you a night in the drunk tank.
Where your misdemeanor is most likely to surface as an issue is during a security clearance, which does come with certain Capitol Hill and administration positions.
The legislative branch uses guidelines from the Department of Defense for conducting staff security clearances. (You can find them online here). Disqualifying conditions may include arrest and/or conviction of a felony; frequent involvement with authorities even as a juvenile, and a DWI/DUI. You can also be disqualified for deliberately omitting or concealing information, so while that public intoxication by itself isn’t likely to ruin your security clearance, keeping mum on it could make it worse.
Most Hill staffers went to college, and not all were the upstanding citizens they are now, certainly not at all hours of the day. Consider Bluto from “Animal House.” He wound up a senator in the end.
But keep your tie on straight once you land that Hill job. Another misdemeanor could put you in a tough spot once your boss’ name is attached to it, especially if the news winds up in Roll Call. Hopefully your college mistake is a one-time “lesson learned” and you’re on to bigger and better things.
July 21, 2014
Continued from Dads on Capitol Hill: House Paternity Leave Not So Simple
At the recent White House Summit on Working Families, President Barack Obama spoke about the 2 a.m. feedings and soothings when his daughters, Malia and Sasha, were babies. “A whole lot of fathers would love to be home for their new baby’s first weeks,” he said, citing “outdated policies and old ways of thinking” as part of the problem. “The bottom line is 21st century families deserve 21st century workplaces … and that means paid family leave, especially paid parental leave.”
But not all dads are comfortable taking time away from the office — even if that time is paid. “They can pay a price financially for it,” said Scott Behson, a professor of management at Fairleigh Dickinson University who runs the blog Fathers, Work and Family. Behson cites a study from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law that showed men who interrupt their employment for family reasons earn significantly less after returning to work. On Capitol Hill, where face time is at a premium, stepping away for several weeks can be difficult, even with a supportive boss.
But if someone at the top takes paid paternity leave, that can have a positive effect on other staffers. “What your peers do really matters. If the chief of staff will take paid leave, that is when you’re going to get workers to take paid leave,” said Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California San Diego who authored a study published this month in The American Economic Review that backs up his point. “You just have to jump start the system somehow.”
Chris Gaston, chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Rush D. Holt of New Jersey, took the full 12 weeks offered to him for the birth of both of his children, Max and Clare. He credits his boss and former chief of staff Jim Papa with creating a culture where dads could take time off without fear of retaliation. When Gaston returned from paternity leave after the birth of his daughter, he was promoted from legislative director to chief of staff.
“I took leave twice and ended up becoming chief of staff, I don’t think it penalized anything,” he said.
June 23, 2014
It’s that time of year again.
Congressional baseball is back! Yes, so is Major League Baseball (and minor leagues, and Bethesda Big Train) but for the purposes of our audience, the Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game is the real midsummer classic.
It has the feel of a summer baseball game with the camaraderie of a work happy hour. There is something for everyone, from the thrill-seeking intern who gets excited to see a member of Congress in person to the hard-working chief of staff who needs an excuse to take the rest of the staff out for a night. Full story
June 10, 2014
In 2004, during the debate for the now-defunct Federal Marriage Amendment, tensions on Capitol Hill for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had reached unprecedented levels. Gay staffers were being singled out in an aggressive “outing” campaign, with hostile phone calls to their homes and offices, and even personal confrontations. Four staffers decided to take action, forming the Gay, Lesbian and Allies Senate Staff Caucus. ”It was imperative for the LGBT community to have a safe space,” said Jeffrey Levensaler, one of the founders of GLASS and currently deputy chief of staff to Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
“People both on and off the Hill were just looking for someone to talk to,” said Lynden Armstrong, a GLASS co-founder who now works as director of communication and technology integration for the Senate sergeant-at-arms. “It was our first very public opportunity to support our community,” said Armstrong, who worked for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., at the time. Full story
May 20, 2014
It seems to come so easily to many politicians: the hearty handshake, the half-arm hug, asking after family members then listening with oh-so-intrigued eyes as the stories roll in. But what about those for whom small talk and glad-handing isn’t a natural part of their modus operandi? Hill Navigator discusses.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone incredibly shy who now all of a sudden has to represent their office at evening receptions as part of their job? It would be nice to get over the shyness for reasons of personal career advancement, as well. Being in a room full of strangers is more daunting than it looks.
A. Being in a room full of strangers can be daunting to anyone; even the most extroverted can stammer through talking points or have trouble feigning interest during the umpteenth round of small talk. Full story
April 22, 2014
“[We] are reminded that no act of violence, no matter how senseless, can ever take away from the world-class athletic event that the Boston Marathon is and always will be.” — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
BOSTON — The Boston Marathon has always had its followers and has long served as the “gold standard” for the marathoning world. In 118 years of running, this year stood out — and not just because of the staffers and members of Congress running it.
An American won elite men’s group for the first time in 31 years. Security lined parts of the course, the runners’ village and the finish line, yet the runners and spectators came in near-record numbers.
When I started writing my Roll Call piece about staffers and the Boston Marathon, I was surprised at how hard it was to find runners. But the ones I did find were eager to talk about their experience and about finding a way to combine their love of running with a high-demand job working for a member of Congress.
Kerry Allen, legislative assistant for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she had a “rough day” but still finished in 3:01. “I can safely say if not for the crowds and support throughout the course, I would not have made it to the finish,” Allen said.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., finished in 4:48 and called the day “absolutely incredible.”
“This was not my best time; I’ve run a marathon much faster, but this was my favorite,” Sinema said. “I just felt this really incredible sense of gratitude the whole day. Halfway through, I stopped thinking I would [set a personal record] and I could start focusing on Boston and was filled with gratitude.”
Scott Zoback, district press secretary for Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., finished in 5:13 and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., finished in 4:02.
As expected, there was a large police presence: bags near the finish line were screened, while runners reported seeing snipers on the roof of the middle school in Hopkinton. Yellow “inspected” tags were stuck on bags, strollers and any other items that could be deemed unusual. But the crowd didn’t falter. Runners reported feeling as much, if not more, enthusiasm compared to previous years. One runner said a volunteer handed her a finisher’s medal while telling her that to do so was an honor.
Would the runners do Boston again? “Wait three days and ask me that question,” said Sinema, who has a half-Ironman scheduled for June.
Roll Call has long been a newspaper for Capitol Hill because of our willingness to better understand the people who work there. Hill Navigator, in particular, provides a nexus between the idiosyncratic tasks of Capitol Hill jobs and the high-achieving, often perfectionist, people who hold them. These are the identical traits often exhibited by successful marathon runners, and it’s not surprising that these two populations would overlap. The staffers/runners return now to their lives, inundated with vote recommendations, press releases, constituent mail and meetings. But they can now add this to their already impressive resumes: Boston Marathon finishers.
Congratulations. And thanks for allowing me to tag along on your big day.
April 16, 2014
Capitol Hill staffers, by job design, are dedicated. The boss’ needs are elevated above their own, a staffer’s actions — good and bad — reflect back on the member. The job is all-consuming, sometimes exhausting and overwhelming, but Hill Navigator would not have a column in Roll Call if working on Capitol Hill was not as rewarding as it is.
Marathon runners, also by design, are dedicated. Those 26.2 miles wouldn’t be completed without months of training, through sub-freezing temperatures, orange-alert humidity, and the occasional mid-March snowstorm. Whether it’s early mornings in the dark or late nights on the treadmill, it’s an undertaking.
This Monday, I’ll be one of the thousands of spectators waiting alongside the 118th annual Boston Marathon to cheer runners on. The energy of this particular Boston Marathon will undoubtedly be different: The effects of last year’s bombing and new security measures will be acutely felt. But runners are strong. As are Capitol Hill staffers. Such a combination, while unusual, is noteworthy in itself.
The Boston Marathon, the “gold standard in marathoning” according to Charlie Ban of RunWashington, is the culmination of marathon efforts. Not many people can balance the intense demands of a Capitol Hill job with training for a race as prestigious as the Boston Marathon. But a few are: Kerry Allen, legislative assistant for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, hopes to run a 2:48, which is about a 6:25 per mile pace; Scott Zoback, the district press secretary for Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., who was on Boylston Street last year when the two bombs went off, killing three people and wounding more than 200 more; and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who trains seven days a week, without letting the demands of Congress take her away from it.
Look for a follow-up post after the marathon to see how each of these runners fared. And follow me on Twitter (@beckgale) on race day for updates.
Did you know you can get Hill Navigator delivered to your inbox? Go to the right-hand sidebar and sign up under “SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL.”
January 27, 2014
It’s the congressional Super Bowl: Once a year, the nation tunes in to watch the House floor as members, senators, Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries, dignitaries, VIPs and some lucky invitees get together for the president’s annual speech. And sometimes, if you look closely at the edge of the network camera shots, you can spot one of the many congressional staffers on the scene.
Hill Navigator has been through her share of SOTU speeches. While the late night and frantic scurrying can be exhausting, it is also one of the best nights to be a staffer on Capitol Hill. Your workplace — so to speak — is hosting the president of the United States. Even the raised print business card pales compared to that.
To make your big night even smoother — or just provide something entertaining to read during the endless security sweeps — Hill Navigator has put together a staffer survival guide for the SOTU. Enjoy.
For the Press Secretary: This is your night. Sure, your boss might be the one sitting in the seat thinking deep thoughts on domestic and foreign policy, but this is your chance to meet your member afterward, shuttle him or her from camera to camera in Statuary Hall and get that press release back to your home-state papers posthaste. A few tricks that might help:
- Talk to your local paper ahead of time. Get their deadlines and see if you can send an embargoed quote. The president has an embargoed speech floating around, so you certainly can muster up a prewritten reaction. It helps everyone go to bed a little earlier.
- Find out if any of the Statuary Hall cameras can pipe feed back to your local stations. Most TV stations want a local reaction to the SOTU for their 11 p.m. newscast and early morning shows. Don’t forget the extra cameras in the Russell and Cannon Rotundas (and be sure to look for Roll Call’s camera — new this year!). If you have no idea what I’m referring to, talk to your caucus leadership; they will have camera maps and timelines for you.
- Remind the boss to put the BlackBerry or iPhone away. Every year someone gets caught scrolling on their device instead of listening. As much as Heard on the Hill loves it, don’t be that person.
For the Staff Assistant: Each member gets a guest, and often it’s the staff assistant’s job to greet that person and help them to their location. Some tips for you:
- No matter what you think of the president or his speech, this is a huge honor for your guest. Play it up. Be excited for them. Gush a little. If your boss has deemed the visitor important, than don’t let her or him think otherwise.
- Know where you’re going. Sure, you should know how to get to the Capitol, but find out what time the guest should be seated and where. Not sure of the logistics? Call your caucus leadership or the office of your chamber’s sergeant-at-arms. They’ll have any answer you need, and then you’ll be the prepared and confident staffer smart enough to have done his or her homework.
For the Policy Staffers: This is your night to kick back and take it easy. Typically, a response is not needed from you on SOTU night. Find a D.C. bar and watch the speech, or stay at home in your PJs. Just make it to the end of the speech. Remember that any reference, no matter how brief, will rile up interest groups, and they’ll likely be looking to pounce on any opportunity to bring their issue front and center. Be sure to check your email before calling it a night.
For the Chief of Staff: Offices have varying rules about how late staffers need to stay when the boss is around. Don’t be that COS who asks everyone to stay and watch the SOTU from their desks. Figure out who needs to stay and communicate that, preferably a day ahead of time. And if the edict comes down that everyone needs to be there (there are some offices …) then order in dinner. Boss’s treat.
December 16, 2013
Holiday parties! Free food and drinks and Christmas trees abound. But if you’re a Hill staffer with a long dance card, how do you decide where to go? Hill Navigator helps.
Q. Holiday party invites are pouring in (well, for some staffers). Some are great networking events and some are a waste of time. Do you have any advice on how to determine which ones are worthwhile to attend and how to make the most of these events?
A. Yes, and this answer will be more straightforward than you expect. The best holiday parties for networking are the ones to which you’re actually invited.
But wait, you’re thinking, I’ve got access to the staff assistant list. Or the Google doc. Or a master spreadsheet that lists all the fabulous parties with their locations. These parties have great open bars. And sushi! And a small stuffed animal and package of candy canes (or something equally inane) to take home.
If you want to enjoy a debaucherous holiday season and take full advantage of the wonder that is Capitol Hill Christmas party season, by all means, study that spreadsheet, grab a friend and some comfortable shoes, and go for it. But your question implies a more discerning taste. If someone has taken the time to invite you — personally — try to stop by.
Here’s why: This person either has a relationship with you or wants to build one. They took the time to invite you, so they’ll spend a handful of minutes chatting with you over eggnog. And you’re likely to meet a few of their colleagues, and thus you have productive networking.
But say your invite list is on the short side and you haven’t tired of the Santa hats just yet. Team up with a colleague, or find a co-worker or a friend in another office. If they have an invitation to a party, they can often bring a guest. Then tag along as they chat with their contact. And that will be time well spent being merry.
Are those pesky ethics rules cramping your style? My colleague Kate Ackley has a story in Roll Call about what’s allowed for holiday fare and merry-making. It’s a must-read before you start making the rounds, because nothing kills a holiday buzz like inadvertently breaking a rule that could cost you your job.
And remember, behave yourselves. Bosses — and reporters — are always nearby. Unless you want your debauchery to wind up in Heard on the Hill, assume that someone is always listening.
December 5, 2013
Who says you can’t have your eggnog and drink it too? Bring on the holiday parties — a time-honored Capitol Hill tradition that no staffer should go without. From K street haunts to the Cannon Caucus Room to the Rayburn basement, the parties are in full swing starting this week.
But what about those ethics rules? My colleague, Kate Ackley, has a story in today’s Roll Call about what’s allowed for holiday fare. It’s a must-read before you start making the rounds, because nothing kills a holiday buzz like inadvertently breaking a rule that could cost you your job.
November 12, 2013
Ask someone on Capitol Hill how things are going, you’re likely to get a variation of this response:
“Great, super busy though.”
“Busy. But good.”
“Really busy. Looking forward to recess.”
So busy! Everyone on Capitol Hill is busy. Everyone in D.C. is busy. More people need the word “busy” etched on their forehead. Better yet, permanently attach a red blinking light that shows they are IN DEMAND.
Capitol Hill, with its long hours, unpredictable vote schedule and mandatory receptions, can make any well-intentioned staffer feel overwhelmed. And busy. Some of us thrive on being busy — we open Outlook and want to see a full calendar and hundreds of unread emails. But for those who would like a little more calm in their lives, or at least some space to do something not work related, here are a few ways to clear out the clutter and breathe a little easier.
1. Cut the fat. Look over your schedule and see which of your commitments have a low return on investment. That all-day panel session in Penn Quarter — do you really need to learn about new policies in renewable energy, or would it be wiser for you to catch up on the constituent mail backlog? That cocktail reception at the Reagan building — do you intend to network effectively? If you’re just nursing a G&T in the corner by yourself, you’d be better off going home to unwind.
An easy fat to cut: conference calls. “That was a really good conference call,” said no one ever. Get rid of conference calls. They’re ineffective, they run too long and they are often dominated by whoever talks the longest and/or loudest. Try scheduling a meeting or collaborating over email if you can. If you must do the conference call, make an agenda, start the call on time and keep it under 30 minutes.
2. Double down on what works best. Fill your schedule with the sorts of items that provide the greatest return, including one-on-one meetings, events and networking opportunities where you have a clear purpose, and anything that meets your boss’s needs and goals.
A quick add to your schedule: an equipment check. Take the extra time to pack your laptop charger and make sure your BlackBerry has enough battery life to get through the day.
3. Take breaks. Often. That walk around Mountains and Clouds in the Hart Senate Office Building might be what you need to clear your head and refocus. Or go get coffee. Do anything that requires you to leave your workspace and think about something else before returning to your work.
4. Set boundaries. Set a word count, a page number or an end time. Whatever the request, pick a limit and aim not to exceed. It’s easy to research everything, add another page, or unearth another talking point. But that kind of thinking can run you ragged and leave you with work that lacks focus. And when you need to, say “no.” Be a team player, sure, but know what items you should not sign up for. Perhaps you don’t need to stop by every single state society reception (except maybe the pie one). Create your limits and then use the extra time to critique and proofread your work. And then go get that coffee.
5. Spend some time being you. Not “staffer” you. Real you. Work is important, but you’ll feel less gripped by the business craze if you can carve out part of your day to do something not work related. Read a novel. Go for a run. Call your parents. You may be an important and busy Hill staffer, but once upon a time you were something else. Don’t lose sight of that person.
November 4, 2013
Hill Navigator has long believed one needs to network both on and off Capitol Hill. Particularly if you’re contemplating a job switch, having a contact put your résumé on top of the (metaphorical) pile can do wonders for getting that initial interview. But what if you don’t know people who can help? And just how do you meet those elusive “lobbyists” everyone talks about but no one claims to be? Hill Navigator discusses below.
Q. I work on the Hill and after the recent shutdown, I am more than ready to leave. I am a junior staffer and do not meet many lobbyists on the job. Are there restaurants/bars you can recommend where I may run into more lobbyists? All the Hill bars are overrun with just staffers. Thanks!
A. Back in the day, the Hill bars would be overrun with lobbyists as well — they’d be the ones in the nice suits and silk ties, picking up the tab for just about everyone. But then new ethics rules rolled in and everyone began paying for their own drinks. The back rooms of Hawk ‘n’ Dove were never the same.
But there are plenty of ways to meet and connect with lobbyists that do not involve free drinks, or free lunch for that matter. You work on Capitol Hill. Lobbyists are eager to meet you and talk to you, even if it just gives them another excuse to camp out in the Longworth cafeteria.
Even as a junior staffer, you surely have some legislative issues you are connected to, even if it’s a distant connection. Constituent mail counts!
Pick several issues you’d like to know more about and contact the relevant organizations. Ask to set up a meeting to learn more. A lobbyist worth a shred of his or her expense account will jump at the opportunity to meet with a curious staffer. Even if the big-wig lobbyist is too busy, he can send one of his minions. And don’t be turned off by the junior lobbyist; they are in the same position as you: looking to connect, talk about the issues and do the job. And like you, the once-junior staffers have a tendency to move up. No one stays a staff assistant forever.
August 13, 2013
Recently, Hill Navigator sent out a request for novels set in Washington, D.C., that were written by women. Apparently such a request is esoteric enough that it took some serious thinking to come up with a suggested reading list. But never fear, a list of female-authored novels has arrived.
Hill Navigator has not personally read all of these, so cannot vouch for their literary merits. But as someone who believes in reading from all walks of life and collecting book recommendations, this list is a good start to enhance your summer reading. And it beats sitting on the beach with Robert Caro’s “Master of the Senate.”
1. Anything by Margaret Truman Daniel, including “Murder in Georgetown”, “Murder in Foggy Bottom” and “Murder on K Street.” Harry Truman’s daughter was a novelist, who knew? And she set her murder mysteries deep in D.C., with all the politics and thrills that accompany this town from someone who knows it intimately. The recommendation of Truman Daniel’s books came from Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va. — we’re glad to know there are enlightened men out there who read novels written by women.
2. “Sammy’s Hill” and “Sammy’s House” both written by Kristin Gore. Another famous politician’s daughter writes about Capitol Hill and the White House in a way that could broadly appeal to people both in and out of the Beltway. I can appreciate any book that delves deep into the inner-workings of Congress, though there is a generation of West Wing fanatics who prefer their political entertainment be centered on the White House.
3. “Cocktails and Murder on the Potomac” by Mary-Jane Deeb. Deeb works at the Library of Congress and submitted this recommendation: “It highlights many interesting spots in our nation’s capital. Many of the events described actually took place (concerts, fashion show, etc…) although the mystery itself and the events surrounding the mystery are fictional.” The book is only available on the Kindle, but at this point not having a Kindle is like being the only one in the room still using a BlackBerry …
4. “Heartburn” by Nora Ephron. Confession: Most of my Ephron exposure comes from her movies, including perennial favorite “You’ve Got Mail.” A reader recommended “Heartburn”, which is based on Ephron’s own marriage (and divorce) to Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein. It’s always fun to take a glimpse at someone else’s rocky relationship, particularly with D.C. in the backdrop. For those who want to skip the reading and go straight to the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep — that’s an option too.
5. “River, Cross My Heart” by Breena Clarke. There had to be at least one Oprah-endorsed book on the list. This one features a drowning in the Potomac. Several readers wrote in to recommend it, as well as other books written by Clarke, including “Stand the Storm.”
Miss something? Let Hill Navigator know.
Want to see the original list compiled by Roll Call After Dark’s Jason Dick? Take a look here.
August 6, 2013
Hill Navigator is a great proponent of fiction reading in general. Too much of the world revolves around nonfiction, and the more well-written fiction available, the better. But that is not the debate we’re going to have here.
Dick’s list had a notable theme — all of the authors were men. That’s right, a summer reading list of some of D.C.’s favorite novel-writing guys. Not exactly the diversity Hill Navigator was hoping for.
So in an attempt to refute this list, I began scouring my own fiction collection. I went through several Goodreads and Amazon lists, only to find that there are hardly any novels written by women about Washington, D.C. The handful I found I hadn’t read, and thus couldn’t possibly recommend.
I sought other opinions and sent a few emails to some well-read colleagues. One responded with “Gone With the Wind?” which Hill Navigator acknowledges is an excellent book and would make fantastic summer reading, although it does not take place in Washington, D.C. But that is exactly what D.C. needs — a “Gone with the Wind” equivalent written by a woman and that showcases the magnanimous history of our great city from a perspective that is dearly needed.
So Hill Navigator opens it up to you, dear readers. Any novels written by women about Washington, D.C., that you’d recommend? Email HillNavigator@rollcall.com or leave the suggestion in the comments. Even with some exciting summer plans of our own, we’re always looking for good books.
July 31, 2013
There are few phrases more beloved on Capitol Hill than “August Recess.” That four-to-five-week stretch of time when the Capitol empties out, vacation days are cashed in, and the general frenetic activity and acrimony of Congress are mellowed in favor of shorter work hours and longer happy hours. Bipartisan cheers all around.
But August recess still means you’ve got some hours to spend at your desk. Even the long lunches won’t take up an entire day. So what to do with your time? Hill Navigator has some advice on how to make the best use of your August recess. A sprinkling of productivity makes the day go by much faster.
Q. I really appreciate your honest advice; you have a good view of things. Now that August is fast approaching, many staffers will take extended vacations. For those stuck in the office, do you have any suggestions on how best to use this time? Thank you.
A. Yes, pick a handful of things you want to get done this August recess and come up with a way to execute your to-do list. Need some ideas? Hill Navigator has a few:
1. Go to the district. No August recess is complete without a few days (or even a week) back home in the district/state office. Those lucky enough to work for your home state member can turn these trips into some quality family visiting time, but for those who work elsewhere, those district trips are still valuable. Here’s why: Capitol Hill is its own, isolated microcosm of a community. The politics and policies fiercely debated here have a way of translating much differently outside the Beltway. Even if you aren’t one to mull over the legislative accomplishment (or lack thereof) of Congress, going to the state/district will serve as a reminder of whom you represent. Hearing from people—whether in a town hall meeting or at the pancake house—will be the best dose of reality you’ll get all summer.
2. Catch up with everyone. I don’t just mean your softball buddies. Use the August recess to grab coffee with people you’ve worked with over the year—from the legislative assistant whose bill you co-signed to the staff assistant you met at your alumni reception. Success on Capitol Hill depends in part on connections, and good connections require some maintenance. August is the perfect time to do that.
3. Get smarter. Skip the New York Times crossword puzzle and use the August recess to brandish some of your legislative credentials. Our friends at the Congressional Research Service make this easy. CRS offers a full range of programs for congressional staff—free of charge–including policy and legal seminars, legislative research and orientation programs. Go to CRS.gov and click on “events” to see their full offerings for Hill staff. (Unfortunately for non-Hill staff, this website is not accessible outside of Congress). Or if you have questions, give CRS a call at (202) 707-5700.
And if all else fails, grab a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and give your desk a good once-over. Maybe you’ll unearth an old memo or to-do list to jump-start your recess with some fresh ideas.