Thursday, January 15th, was my first day in D.C., and I cannot imagine a more perfect introduction. Upon our arrival, my father and I made our way directly to the Senate Office Buildings. Here we picked up our inaugural packets, including, most importantly, our admission tickets! Having retrieved these prized possessions, we ventured into the maze of underground tunnels, which conveniently connect the Capitol and all Congressional office buildings. Humming with the hustle and bustle of daily life on the Hill, the tunnels provide a most welcome alternative to braving the frigid weather. I do not use the term “frigid” lightly, for today we were greeted with a festive winter high of 22 degrees, accompanied by a bitter cold wind.
Perhaps Senator Hillary Clinton shares my distaste for the cold, for it just so happened that she was making her way through the tunnel at the same time we happened to be. Watching her approach, I grappled with the desire to stop and introduce myself, or the more practical option of simply nodding and continuing on my way. Not one to halt the progress of an individual on a mission, I opted for the later, simply making eye contact and offering a smile. I could not help but grin with childish delight when she appeared on television within the hour, expressing gratitude and praise to her colleagues and constituents for their assistance and support throughout her career as a United States Senator.
Gripped by the excitement of encountering Senator Clinton, who has been one of my political idols for many years, we continued on our way to the House office buildings. We were on our way to meet up with Congressman Dennis Cardoza. A friend of my father’s and a former California State Assembly Member, he graciously arranged a lunch engagement for the three of us in the Congressional Dining Room. Congressman Cardoza is a third term member of the House of Representatives, who represents the 18th district of California. Among many issues, he strongly supports research on alternative and renewable energy sources, advocates the defense of Social Security, and works to secure funding that is imperative to the success of Central Valley farmers. He also had a very large role to play in the establishment of UC Merced. During lunch, we were accompanied by Sean Trambley, a member of Congressman Cardoza’s staff and a fellow UCSC alumnus. What a small world!
While my father and I shared a highly enjoyable meal with Congressman Cardoza and Sean, the Senate voted to grant President-Elect Obama access to the remaining half of the $700 billion bailout plan. I was later informed that the House voted to postpone an official vote on the matter until sometime next week. It was highly energizing to be amidst the daily life of our policy makers.
The remainder of the afternoon in D.C. included a brief visit to our Congressman Sam Farr’s Office. Unfortunately, he was not available, so Dad and I signed the guest book to indicate that we had stopped by. We then explored the Library of Congress, stunning in its architectural intricacy, and embarked upon a driving tour of Georgetown University. I hope to visit Georgetown Law at a later point in the coming week.
The city is bursting at the seams with signs of the impending Inauguration. Souvenir stands pepper Union Station and mementos are proudly displayed in store windows throughout the city. Flags and banners fly in abundance, and the chatter of hopeful anticipation can be heard in conversations held on the street. The electricity of D.C. is hard to deny, and makes it easy for one to fall in love with this city.