I remember sitting in my high school government class and thinking, “This whole Capitol Hill thing seems simple. Republicans and Democrats argue. Someone wins. The end.”
That isn’t exactly the case.
As a political junkie, I’ve reported on state and local politics in Ohio, so I thought I had this whole, “bill becomes a law” thing figured out. I was wrong.
While there are some similarities, reporting on the House or Senate involves a greater understanding of not only how the process of government works but also how politics ties in.
Back in Athens, Ohio, I reported on the city council. It was easy because in Athens, the entire council is composed of Democrats. The largest argument I ever heard any of them have was whether homeowners could keep chickens as pets.
The House is a different animal. It is majority Republican, but I quickly found out that being in the minority does not stop Democrats from debating the merits of a bill.
As I sat in the House Press Gallery all day to report on the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” I watched hours of debate before the final vote.
The House passed the bill, which now goes to the Senate. I doubt it will go much farther because Democrats appear to be strongly opposed. No Democrat voted for the bill in the House.
On the same day, I watched the president deliver his State of the Union speech. From the standing-room-only section of the gallery, I could only see President Barack Obama walk in and out of the chamber. Darn my short legs, one day I will grow.
It didn’t really matter though because seeing the reactions of the members of Congress was the most entertaining part of the speech. When people talk about the division between the parties, they aren’t kidding.
Unless it was something about soldiers or the president’s mention John Boehner, Republicans hardly ever stood to clap.
The entire experience was something I will never forget. Rubbing shoulders with reporters from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other notable new outlets was great (especially since I just went for fun, I didn’t report on the speech except to tweet).
I can only hope that this will not be the last State of the Union speech I attend. Just being in the same room as the president, the first lady and Willie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” was such a privilege.