A New Year. A New Congress. A New Beginning. Let Us Pray, Together

All but a few of the Members of the 117th Congress were sworn-in to office today, Sunday, and tomorrow, January 4, 2021, marks the first Monday of what could be one of the most dramatic weeks in American history.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Congress meets in Joint Session Wednesday to receive the votes of the Electoral College electors. Dozens of House Republicans and at least 12 Senate Republicans plan to protest various slates of electors. Passions are growing on all sides.

There are questions and controversies about virtually every aspect of the process, even though 2021 is far from the first time the nation has seen such uncertainty about who won a presidential election, or controversy over how to resolve it. Continue reading “A New Year. A New Congress. A New Beginning. Let Us Pray, Together”

WORKING ON CAPITOL HILL: Traveling The Hard Road

Working on the Hill can often be a tough road to hoe. One day you can do something that makes you look like the smartest person in the room, but then the next day you goof something up because you were still riding yesterday’s high.

Keys to making it: Remember where you came from. Ask God where you should be going. And, as this reminder from Built With Grace of an ancient biblical proverb, encourages, Cherish your true friends:

Built with Grace

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs‬ ‭17:17‬

The Bible constantly reminds us that life for the follower of Jesus will not be easy. There will be storms; there will be obstacles; there will be disappointments and there will be pain.

God never promises to remove those parts of our lives but he does promise to walk through those things with us and give us strength.

He does that in two ways. First, God gives us His Holy Spirit to encourage us and remind us of his power and love.

Secondly, He uses godly friends to be there to encourage us, lift us up and pray for us.

Unfortunately, many times we aren’t there for those people who need to hear a word of encouragement and love.

Remind yourself today of God‘s great power and love for you. Surround yourself…

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WORKING ON THE HILL: Metro May Close Stations, End 3,800 Jobs

Legions of congressional aides get to and from Capitol Hill via Metro every workday, including during the Pandemic, so the prospect of multiple stations being closed and thousands of employees being let go could signal a major headache ahead.

With a $500 million operating deficit, Metro officials are considering closing 19 stations, but it is not known if the Capitol South station would be among those shuttered. That station is used daily by many Hill aides working on the House side, as well as by people visiting the Hill

As many as half of all the pre-Pandemic trips would be eliminated, weekend service would end, and wait times would be extended. Other measures may also be required in the absence of congressional action to prop up the system, according to Metro officials.

Metro’s problems are partially a result of the Pandemic dramatically slashing ridership since March, but other long-standing problems are also involved, including the regional government funding system on which it depends. Other public transportation systems across the country face similar obstacles.

“When I talk to my peers, we’re all facing these almost terrible decisions together,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told The Washington Post. “It’s like, how do we do this? It gets down, unfortunately, to very hard math that you just can’t get there from here without having significant impacts.”

Federal Judge Tells D.C. Mayor She Cannot Ban Meetings of Capitol Hill Baptist Church

Historic congregation located a few blocks from the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Trevor McFadden ruled late Friday in favor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) in its request for a preliminary injunction against the District of Columbia government’s ban on congregational meetings of more than 100 people.

“The Court determines that the church is likely to succeed in proving that the District’s actions violate [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act  of 1993] RFRA,” McFadden wrote.

“The District’s current restrictions substantially burden the church’s exercise of religion. More, the District has failed to offer evidence at this stage showing that it has a compelling interest in preventing the church from meeting outdoors with appropriate precautions, or that this prohibition is the least-restrictive means to achieve its interest. The Court will therefore grant the Church’s motion for injunctive relief,” McFadden continued. Continue reading “Federal Judge Tells D.C. Mayor She Cannot Ban Meetings of Capitol Hill Baptist Church”

Capitol Hill Baptist Church Sues D.C. Government; Claims It Has No Alternative To In-Person Services

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. government are depriving Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) of its members’ only means of worshiping together, according to a suit filed on the congregation’s behalf in federal court.

First established in 1878, CHBC is attended by dozens of congressional staff members who live in the Capitol Hill neighborhood surrounding the U.S. Capitol complex.

Senior Pastor Mark Dever is a nationally known evangelical leader and the founder of the 9Marks organization that provides ministry and administrative resources for churches across the nation.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church Senior Pastor Mark Dever (Screenshot from CHBC video).

“For CHBC, a weekly in-person worship gathering of the entire congregation is a religious conviction for which there is no substitute,” the church said in its suit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Continue reading “Capitol Hill Baptist Church Sues D.C. Government; Claims It Has No Alternative To In-Person Services”

WORKING ON THE HILL: There’s Good News And, Mostly, Bad News About Staff Salaries

If you worked for a couple of years on the Hill beginning in 2000 at the end of the Clinton presidency and the dawn of the second Bush White House, then came back this year in the same position, you would probably see a 35 percent pay hike.

That conclusion is based on Legistorm’s calculation of annual increases in the median staff salary for members of the office staff of a senator or representative. It was $39,673 in 2000 and is presently $53,660, a 35 percent increase.

That’s the good news. Pay for congressional staff has risen steadily during the previous two decades. Unfortunately, it’s still common for lower level staffers to be paid salaries that require having roommates to share housing costs, or other income sources (which should be disclosed). Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: There’s Good News And, Mostly, Bad News About Staff Salaries”

LIVING ON THE HILL: Data Shows Cohabitation Hurts The Kids, Encourages Inequalities

It’s become a commonplace on Capitol Hill and elsewhere that an unmarried man and a woman living together “can raise kids just as well as married couples.”

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

But that’s not what social science data shows, according to Francie Broghammer of the Institute for Family Studies (IFS). Broghammer summarizes what the data shows thusly:

“Cohabiting parents tend to be younger, have lower levels of educational attainment, and face more economic instability. (For reference, 54% of cohabiting parents have a high school diploma or less, and 16% live below the poverty line. Continue reading “LIVING ON THE HILL: Data Shows Cohabitation Hurts The Kids, Encourages Inequalities”

LIVING ON THE HILL: Eating Meals Together Is An Important Gift To Your Spouse, Kids

It probably seems like a small thing, and working on Capitol Hill can be among the jobs that make doing it on a regular basis extraordinarily tough, but sitting down for meals with your spouse and kids may well be among the most important things you can do for them.

Dr. Patrick Fagan, founder and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI)

That’s according to a huge 2016 cross-sectional national study highlighted this week by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), headed by its founder, Dr. Patrick Fagan.

“The study of 8,500 adolescents found that 60% of adolescents shared family meals five times a week or more,” Fagan said in an email to HillFaith.

“The greater the frequency of family meals, the fewer were symptoms of depression or emotional difficulties, and the more frequent was emotional well-being.  On the particular measure of being shielded from symptoms of depression girls benefited more from frequent family meals than boys did,” Fagan said.

The abstract of the study, which was based on multiple regression analyses of a variety of factors, described the results as indicating “frequent family meals may have a protective effect on the mental health of adolescents, particularly for depressive symptoms in girls.

“Interventions that aim to increase the frequency of family meals are needed to evaluate whether family meals alone can have an emotional benefit for adolescents.”

So, tempting as it always is to stay at the office another hour or two, consider setting at least one or two nights a week to be home in time for that meal around the family table with the most important people in your life.

The full study is available at the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. For more about the keys to happy, healthy families, check out MARRI. See also the Marripedia.


WORKING ON CAPITOL HILL: Young Congressional Aide Reveals How He Makes It In D.C. On $45K

Victor Yang has worked on Capitol Hill for three years, presently as legislative assistant to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and previously as a staff assistant to Rep. Charlies Crist (D-Fla.) and an intern for Rep. Juan Vargas, another California Democrat.

Victor Yang (screen shot from Facebook).

Even if you’ve never met Victor, he may look familiar to you because he appeared on CNBC last week in the cable outlet’s “Millennial Money” series of profiles.

He talked at length about how he lives in one of the most expensive cities in America on a salary that is well below the median national household income of $55,880.28 (for 2018, the most recent available full year). Continue reading “WORKING ON CAPITOL HILL: Young Congressional Aide Reveals How He Makes It In D.C. On $45K”

New Study Demonstrates Whether Marriage Or Living Together Make People Happier

How you choose to live with the person you spend the rest of your life with is just as important as who they are

Institute for Family Studies (IFS) Senior Fellow Bradford Wilcox lays out some basic but absolutely vital questions that point to some of the essential advantages marriage offers versus cohabitation.

Is marriage or living together more likely to result in happiness on the road of life? (Photo by Andrew Itaga on Unsplash)

“Is fidelity important to you? Having someone who always tells the truth? Has your back? Communicates well? If these are important to you, marriage looks best,” Wilcox writes.

That’s not just Wilcox’s opinion, either. He is commenting on the results of an important new study from the Pew Research Center entitled “Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S.”

The results of the survey of 9,000 couples show, among much else, that “married adults are more satisfied with their relationship and more trusting of their partners than those who are cohabiting.” Continue reading “New Study Demonstrates Whether Marriage Or Living Together Make People Happier”

Looking For The Recipe For Your Office’s Culture? Just Add Salt

By Bret Bernhardt

We talk a lot about influencing our culture in the macro, but what about closer to home? What’s the culture like in your office? Is it warm, friendly, selfless, welcoming, and open? Or is it coarse, backstabbing, self-serving, and overly ambitious?

Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for senators Don Nickles and Jim DeMint.

Now, what is your role in that culture? Do you strive to bring it to a higher level or do your actions or inactions contribute to an unhealthy environment? We can look for the answer in the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13) What does this mean? Continue reading “Looking For The Recipe For Your Office’s Culture? Just Add Salt”

WORKING ON THE HILL: Women Staffers Turn To Wardrobe Rental Services

Many congressional staffers are in high-visibility, high-pressure positions that, unfortunately, also come with comparatively low pay, so there is a premium on making every dollar earned go as far as possible.

That’s a key to growing popularity among women working on the Hill of wardrobe rental services. Roll Call’s Mary Ellen McIntire has a great post this morning on services like Rent the Runway. Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: Women Staffers Turn To Wardrobe Rental Services”

Resources For Finding Community While Working On The Hill

By Bret Bernhardt

In my last post, we discussed the importance of community while working on Capitol Hill. The Fall is always a good time to take stock of your community, since it typically comes on the heels of time away from work during the summer and a break in your routine.

Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for senators Don Nickles and Jim DeMint.

Now it’s time to get back into that routine and discover the importance of your community.

Author Chris Crowley says that we are mammals in our physiological make-up. As such, we are designed to run in herds or packs. I believe this natural tendency to congregate was implanted into our being by our loving Creator. Continue reading “Resources For Finding Community While Working On The Hill”

HILL STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted

Recent Moves, As Reported By Legistorm:

Garrett Exner’s newest assignment is as military legislative assistant to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Exner is a 2019 MA graduate of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. This is Exner’s first Capitol Hill job.

Danny Jativa is Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s new communications director. Danny comes to Hartzler from a stint as a reporter at the Washington Examiner. Before that, he worked for Florida Republicans Daniel Webster and John Mica. He just finished an MA in governance at American University and earned his BS at Florida State University in international relations. Continue reading “HILL STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted”

HILL STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted!

Recent Moves, As Reported By Legistorm:

Justin Weiss motors into the communications director slot for Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.). Previously, Justin was a senior associate at the Rational 360 lobbying firm. He’s a 2014 Denison University graduate, earning a B.A. in french language and literature, and communications and sociology.

Sara Garcia has saddled up as scheduler for Rep. Van Taylor (R-Texas). She is a 2019 graduate of the University of California at San Diego, with a B.A. in political science and international relations. This is Sara’s first job on the Hill. Continue reading “HILL STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted!”