A Summer on the Hill

I spent the summer living in Washington, D.C. and working as a Senate Intern through the Baucus Leadership Institute. I was assigned to work in the office of Montana Senator, Steve Daines. Senator Daines sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; the Finance Committee; and the Indian Affairs Committee. My global theme is Global Public Health, so I was extremely fascinated to observe the Covid-19 response from the federal level and explore other topics like rural mental health and telehealth. I was able to attend Senate committee hearings that covered each of these topics, including a hearing that Dr. Anthony Fauci attended to give expert testimony.

Standing on the balcony of the West Terrace of the Capitol building overlooking the National Mall.

Some other interesting healthcare topics I had the opportunity to learn more about included direct primary care economic models, Medicare expansion and reimbursement, and pharmaceutical patent litigation. My favorite part about the fast-paced environment on Capitol Hill was the constant push to learn and stay on top of each issue. I was fascinated to learn more about the Library of Congress and their sole purpose of educating members of Congress and compiling information and reports on every topic imaginable.

In addition to healthcare topics, I spent a majority of my time working with the Natural Resource Policy Advisor in our office covering topics from forest management and wildfire prevention to endangered species protection and management. The Montana drought emergency and cattle market transparency were also critical issues addressed by Senator Daines’ office during my internship.

Senator Rand Paul being interviewed by reporters after exiting the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing to examine the current state of the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci testified at this hearing.

Second to the learning, I immensely enjoyed getting to meet so many new people on a daily basis. It was a privilege to meet and develop close friendships with the other interns in Senator Daines’ office, in addition to interns in Senators Klobuchar, Grassley, Lankford, Cramer, and Tester’s offices, to name a few. To my surprise, I observed more comradery than expected between offices of contrasting political ideologies. It was interesting to witness events on the Hill in real-time and then see how media outlets would report on those same events. For example, I was in the Hart building when Representative Joyce Beatty (OH) and multiple voting rights activists protested for H.R. 1 and were arrested for demonstrating in the building. I had a front-row seat to several other news-worthy events, including a shooting incident at a Washington Nationals baseball game, flash-flooding and a tornado that touched down within proximity of D.C., and Senator Schumer’s call for cloture on the INVEST in America Act.

One of my fellow interns and a Staff Assistant standing in the Marine Corps hallway during our Pentagon tour.

Washington, D.C. is a city of rich history and culture and I feel lucky to have experienced living there. Every neighborhood was unique from the other. It was a bit of a challenge at first to adjust to life without a car, but I quickly got the hang of the metro and enjoyed the convenience and simplicity of getting anywhere I needed on the metro or by my own two feet. Thanks to some generous friends, I was able to visit both the National Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture for the first time.

Senator Daines made it a priority to meet with our intern cohort and know our stories. The Senator also invites each of us to shadow him for a day and accompany him to meetings and hearings.

My summer internship opened my eyes to career paths I had not considered and allowed me to see how I could make an impact in politics, either at the state or federal level. This experience provided some clarity in my career path, gave me the opportunity to establish a network of friends, mentors, and professionals, and gave me memories that I will treasure for years to come.