Day 012 – WA DC – The Capitol

My first full day here and I actually got out of the house. Biking around the city is a real treat. Bike lanes are everywhere and the cars seem friendly or at least not hostile. I made my way over to the Hart building to get gallery passes from Sen. Schumer’s (D-NY) office. I was the only person wondering around the complex in bicycle shorts and sandals. Thankfully there is no dress code.

The Capitol Building is very constituent/tourist friendly. In 2008 a massive visitors center was opened that has displays, a restaurant, gift shop, etc. All the stuff you would see at any large attraction and it’s tastefully done.  Getting in a much friendly version of going through TSA. No guns, liquids (alcohol hand gel is fine), knifes, etc. You can’t bring cell a phone or other recording equipment into the gallery, but it’s easy enough to check it in after entering the building but before getting up to the galleries.

The Senate is not a very large space and very little business was occurring while I was there. As I was sitting down – Sen. Chambliss (R-GA) was the only Senator in the chamber making a speech on the 15 year struggle to expand the Port of Savannah which is now closer to happening due to todays passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act by the Senate.

I’m guessing he wanted to get his comments in the permeant record for his constituents to see, because it didn’t seem like he was advocating for anything, but not being very well versed in how the Senate works it was hard for me to know for sure. Every word spoken in the chamber is recorded word for word by a rotating group of stenographers (each doing 15 minutes stents). They get up right in front of the who ever is speaking and stand typing away while staring at the speakers face. It’s then searchable in the Library of Congress Thomas system – this is exactly what I heard Sen. Chambliss say.

I encourage everyone to come down to DC and visit their Senator and/or Representative’s Office. Their staff is paid to be nice to you and answer questions. If you plan well enough in advance you might even be able to get a meeting and directly speak your mind to him or her.

Even my brief exposure from walking around the buildings and seeing people scurrying about on their business was satisfying to see and is much different from seeing/hearing/reading about it in the news or through the lens of a pundit. A lot goes on even when legislation is not actively getting passed by both houses and signed by the president.

It was also really great to see the many school groups touring the Capitol, learning about government. And also how many Americans and foreign tourists were taking the time to sit in the gallery and see what was going on while I was there. A lot of people think of WADC as a four letter word (myself included at times),  but it’s where our Nation’s laws and regulations are hammered out and it’s a complicated affair. Do yourself a favor and visit DC or your state’s Capitol and ask a lot of questions – anyone can sit in on a committee hearing or a session of congress. It might demystify the process a bit for you like it’s doing for me.






2 responses to “Day 012 – WA DC – The Capitol”

  1. Khan Avatar

    Really enjoying reading about your trip. I need to bring the kids to DC. I have travelled thru DC many times but never toured. You gave me some great ideas!

    1. adampomata Avatar

      Glad you are enjoying the blog. For sure get the kids down to DC. There is so much cool stuff to see here and for adults of course too. I plan on leaving for Fredericksburg, VA on Monday and get their in evening. According to Google it’s a little under 3K of climbs – ha!