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.
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.
Anne Gordon returns to the Hill as tax counsel to Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) after a long absence. Gordon was previously an intern in 2002 to Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ). In between, Gordon was most recently with Pricewaterhousecoopers LLP. She received her LLM in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center and her JD from Boston College Law School in 2011.
Got a question for Rep. Norman Torres (D-Calif.)? New communications director Dan Lindner is who to call. He was previously in the same slot for Rep. Raúl Manuel Grijalva (D-Az.).Dan’s MA in political science came in 2011 from American University and his BA from San Diego State University in the same major was earned in 2006. And no, that is not a journalist Dan is cuddling in the accompanying photo.Continue reading “STAFF MOVES: Look Who’s Getting Promoted On The Hill”
Congress, as the First Branch, has the power of the purse, but not enough staff to carry it where it needs to go
A report by the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Task Force Project on Congressional Reform finds that Congress desperately needs to enlarge its staff and improve pay and working conditions if it hopes to regain equal footing with the executive branch.
Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, the issue of restoring the ability of Congress to go toe-to-toe with the executive branch is a constitutional priority. And the task force makes clear that expanding congressional staff and paying staff better is a key first step in that effort.
“Congress today is overwhelmed. After decades of self-imposed disinvestment in expertise and staffing, Congress lacks the resources and knowledge to stand on an equal footing either with the executive branch, or with the tens of thousands of lobbyists employed in Washington (many of whom are former staffers now earning multiples of their Capitol Hill pay),” the task force wrote. Continue reading “Task Force Says Congress Needs Bigger, Better-Paid Staff”
Suzanne Lane is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s new digital director, moving over from her previous slot with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Suzanne is a 2015 graduate of the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in political science and government.
Kayla Rillo moves over to the legislative assistant slot in the office of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) from a similar slot with Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.). Kayla is a 2015 political science graduate from Seton Hall University.
Quarterback Nick Foles went from being Super Bowl MVP with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 to breaking his clavicle in his first game with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this year.
To put Foles’ situation in a congressional staff context, imagine getting a big promotion from a good job on an important House staff to a bigger Senate slot that pays more and demands everything you’ve got.
Then a couple of weeks after starting, the chief of staff who hired you leaves and the new guy has his own favorite for the position you just took over. You can see where it’s going and it ain’t looking good.
So how do you react? Check out this video of Foles laying out his reactions for reporters to an injury that sidelined him at just about the worst possible time:
No, this post is not about polar bears or Alaskan brown bears, even though they do spend a great deal of time in the water. This post is about the tiny anthropods known as “Tartigrades” that are found in waters around the Earth, including those that are freezing and those that are quite warm.
Doesn’t really matter to Tardigrades what kind of environment they are in because they possess an absolutely unique ability to survive in virtually any environment, including, according to scientists at the University of California Sand Diego (UCSD), everything “from dangerously high radiation levels to chillingly low temperatures to exposure to deadly chemicals. They’ve even been launched into space as part of a project to transfer life forms to the moon (and crash-landed there with the Beresheet lander spacecraft earlier this year).” Continue reading “Why ‘Water Bears’ May Present An Unsolvable Dilemma For Survival Of The Fittest Advocates”
Here’s the backstory to the amazing encounter of a hurting Hill aide and a searching Vietnam veteran
By Bret Bernhardt
When was the last time you felt compassion in your work on the Hill?
This challenge shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if you’ve ever spent time answering calls as a staff assistant. Or try listening to a constituent’s opinion as a legislative correspondent or a legislative assistant.
Matt McNally now occupies the chief of staff’s office for Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) after two years in Gotham City as director of its federal affairs operation. Previously, McNally was communications director for Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). He is a Roger Williams University graduate.
Jacob Stubbs has his first position on a congressional staff, serving as a legislative assistant for Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). For two years prior, Stubbs was a special assistant in the Department of Homeland Security. He has an MA from Yale Divinity School and a BA in government and religion from Berry College.
There’s a new professional staff member for the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Alan McQuinn. He’s a “Hook’em Horns” kind of guy, earning a BS in 2013 in political communications and public relations from that big school in Austin.
Got a scheduling question involving Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa)? Ask the new scheduler, Tony McComiskey. The new gig comes after three years in various capacities with former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.). McComiskey’s BA in political science and government was awarded by Gettysburg College in 2014.
Think You Want To Go Back Home And Run For Congress?
It’s not unusual for congressional staffers to return home at some point and stand for election as their neighbors’ representative in the nation’s capitol.
Sometimes they win, sometimes they don’t. Rosemary Becchi, former tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, is making major strides toward being among the former, having raised, according to the New Jersey Globe, more than $387,000 in her bid for the GOP nomination for Congress in the seventh district.
If she wins her primary against two opponents, Becchi will take on Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J., a freshman who will be running for re-election for the first time. Becchi has the endorsement of FreedomWorks America and Maggie’s List.
LOOKING FOR A HILL JOB?
Check out this five-part HillFaith series by Bret Bernhardt, former chief of staff for Senators Don Nickle (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Bernhardt has a wealth of experience, insider insight, how-tos and obscure terms (know what a “golden reference” is on the Hill?), plus lots of helpful links.
Clarissa Rojas, 23, is one of the youngest communications directors working on Capitol Hill, having begun serving in that position earlier this month for Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.).
But her latest position is not her first on Capitol Hill. Rojas previously served as press secretary for Rep. Nannette Diaz Barragan (D-Calif.) and before that as press assistant in the same office.
It’s not just her age that makes Rojas noteworthy, it’s the tough road she’s had to travel to get from a hard life in California to a congressional staff position. It’s a journey that Roll Call’s Kathryn Lyons describes well in a superb profile today. If you read nothing else today, read this one.
What do you say if a former boss asks you for a few minutes to chat, then closes the door and explains that she wants to pick your brain about reshaping her staff to advance her legislative agenda more effectively?
Do you say “hire more staff” or “let some people go and pay those you keep more?” Perhaps the solution is to start looking for replacements for all of the key slots, but then how do you avoid merely hiring a new version of the same-old-same-old?
Alan Wiseman of Vanderbilt and Craig Volden of UVA are co-directors of the Center for Effective Law-Making and they recently did a thoughtful memo for the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on what makes productive legislative staffs. Some of their conclusions, posted by legbranch.org, will surprise even Hill veterans.
This post came about today because early this morning as I was walking Twister, our exuberant Black Lab, I was somehow reminded by a magnificent oak of the fact I couldn’t see the trees for the forest on my first “bad” job on Capitol Hill.
Here’s the background: My first job on the Hill was as press secretary for a Maryland congressman. It was a great experience, as I learned so much from Don Baker, a superb Washington Post reporter, about journalism and the news process, and I absorbed volumes about the ways of the Hill.
But then I got over-confident, talked my way into a job working for an older Texas congressman as his chief of staff, and promptly realized I had screwed up royally.
Greg Brooks is now chief of staff for Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio). The Brooks and Wenstrup connection goes back to 2012 when Brooks served as political director. Brooks has filled just about every other key staff slot for Wenstrup in the years since. He is a 2010 Magna Cum Laude graduate in government with a BA from Centre College.
Stephanie Dougherty is Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s new legislative counsel. She moves over to the Hill after a two-year stint with the U.S. Climate Action Network as government affairs director.
She is a 2009 graduate of the Seattle University School of Law and a 2005 BA graduate in political science and business from Texas Christian University.
Ben Martello is now senior adviser to Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.). Martello’s BA in politics was awarded in 2002 by Salve Regina University. He was previously district director for Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.).
When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released the results of her July survey of Congressional Compensation and Diversity on September 26, it prompted Casey Burgat, senior fellow for the R Street Institute’s Governance Project, to run a comparison with data on HIll staff he uses in his analyses.
Pelosi’s results were based on responses from more than 5,000 respondents to a survey that was sent to 10,000 Hill employees. Burgat uses data obtained from Legistorm, the widely used compiler of official congressional information about salaries, staff backgrounds, employment histories and much, much more, as of March 2019.
Kate O’Connor is the new chief counsel for the Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on communications and technology. Kate has worked on the Hill for five years on the Senate side, but this is her first committee gig. She’s a 2014 public policy BA graduate from the University of Chicago.
Marsha Espinoza is Rep. Linda Sanchez’s new chief of staff, marking a return for Espinoza as she was communications director for the California Democratic representative in 2008-2010. In the years between, Espinoza worked for Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Califo ), was an Obama political appointee at the Department of Homeland Security, and became a partner at Swann Street Partners. Espinoza received her MA in communications from Texas State University at San Marcos in 2007, and her BS in education in 2002 from New Mexico State University.Continue reading “WORKING ON THE HILL: Look Who’s Being Promoted”
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?
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.