Team Way Outside the Beltwayers does lunch at the Longworth.
I’ve only been on the Hill for a few hours, and already I’ve learned several important lessons.
Number One: Heavily starched white shirts and grayscale suits comprise the unspoken dress code for gentlemen on the Hill. Apparently, no one got the memo (as I did) that purple is the new black this season. Geez, folks.
Number Two: The vending machines in the congressional building hallways should be nominated as Wonders of the World, as they accept all major credit cards, dispense both hot and cold food items, and sell household items and DVDs.
Number Three: All the stories you hear about the “Hill buzz” are absolutely true. This is, after all, the natural habitat of our lawmakers and their overworked, bleary–eyed staff. So, to join in the fun, I asked my lunch crew of Team Way Outside the Beltwayers to chime in with some of the interesting things they’ve seen, heard and said in their meetings so far today.
Mary Rossi: “I was pleased with Rep. Larsen’s staffer and his level of engagement with my team. And, we learned that the Omnibus Bill will be the same in the Senate as it is in the House. Surprise!”
Flo Lentz: “I was pleased to hear that Preserve America funding may be secure this year after all!”
Joan Murray Simpson: “In my meeting with Rep. Baird’s staffers, I emphasized the fact that there is a dedicated historic preservation fund with $2.7 billion in funds.”
Sonya A. Quitslund: “I was encouraged that the Community Restoration and Revitalization Act will be reintroduced next month. It will extend the 20% tax credit to smaller projects. That will further promote housing and economic development.”
Chris Moore: “I met with Rep. Baird’s staff and the legislation side for Rep. McDermott. It always amazes me how sympathetic and engaged the staffers are to our issues, even if they are not that familiar with them. After my first two meetings, I am hopeful the House mark-ups for the Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America grant programs will be retained.”
And with that, I would like to share my favorite moment so far (the blogger gets a voice too!). Joan (quoted above) was telling me and a few newbie team members about her former career as a small town mayor. After explaining how rewarding and challenging that time in her life was, she looked down at her near-empty iced coffee and said with a sigh, “Yeah, I’ve really been trying to get out of politics.”
As hundreds of hardcore lobbyists and frenzied Hill staffers literally scarfed down their made-to-go salads and sandwiches around us, I couldn’t help but playfully say with a smile, “Yeah, not sure that is ever going to happen.”
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Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.