Day 8 – Pass a Bill


Tonight the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4366, an education research bill that I wrote. The discussion on the House Floor lasted 17 minutes, including some kind words for me. My boss ended his statement on the bill by thanking me for my work and wishing me well as I start a new job in June. His Republican counterpart followed by also complimenting me. The Members of Congress then passed the bill unanimously. In less than 20 minutes, months of work came to a very satisfying and public conclusion.

It was a red letter day. Especially for a Texas boy from farm country.

Washington, for good or for worse, is full of people who measure ourselves by proximity to power and influence. I don’t blame us. It’s our stock and trade. If we lived in New York it would be money or the arts. If we lived in L.A. it would be fame and beauty. But, we easily become overbearing when we take our jobs and ourselves too seriously. And sometimes we aren’t even aware of it.

That’s why, the really “different” thing that happened today wasn’t rubbing shoulders with politicians or passing a bill. It was my boss. When he  realized his written remarks about me didn’t get submitted, he dashed down to the Clerk’s desk to do so, meaning now I could look in the official Congressional Record to find my name in print.

Not that I take myself so seriously as to need that. But I was struck that he thought of it and made the effort on behalf of a junior staffer he’s known for a year. This may seem minor, but it’s major for a Member of Congress to be so thoughtful and proactive toward a staffer. By design, it works the other way around.

Years from now, I hope that I remember this bill, the work it required, and what it accomplished. I also hope I remember not to take myself so seriously. And to take others seriously enough that I would do for them what my boss did for me.