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September 3, 2014

Posts in "TakeFive"

July 21, 2014

Take Five: Rep. Cheri Bustos

Take Five: Rep. Cheri Bustos

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., speaks about her career as a journalist at the Quad-City Times and growing up in the Land of Lincoln among politicians right at her kitchen table. A lightly edited transcript follows.

Q: You earned a master’s degree in journalism and worked as an investigative reporter in Illinois. What was it like?

A: I believe that every day, you could walk into the newsroom and you were in the position to make a difference. I’m a pretty competitive person. My goal every day was to make sure I was making a difference in the community but also to have the above-the-fold, banner story as many days as I possibly could.

Q: You grew up around politics. Your dad was a chief of staff to Sens. Paul Simon and Alan Dixon. What lessons did you pick up from being around politics at such an early age?

A: Sitting around our kitchen table from a very early age on, we talked politics and we talked policy. Never once can I ever remember my dad saying, “Go away, this is an adult conversation.” I could sit around and listen to these guys as long as I wanted to listen to them.

Q: You recently spent Mother’s Day in Afghanistan. What was your biggest takeaway from it?

The most moving part of it was to sit down with our American troops on Mother’s Day when they were away from their children. … If there’s something that has meant a lot to me during my short time here in Washington, it is getting to know a lot of veterans and those who serve to a level that I have a deeper understanding of the sacrifices they’ve given for the country and what their families have given.

Q: You were MVP of the 2013 Congressional Softball Game. How do you keep in shape?

A: I get up at 4:30 a.m. pretty much every morning during the week. I work out for an hour and a half. I do weights and I ride the bike, I run or I play tennis. It’s my release.

Q: You’re finishing your first term in Congress. What advice could you give to incoming freshmen?

A: Have great people around you because this is very much a team effort. If there’s any success that I’ve had, it is a direct reflection of the people I work with. We have a very smart team and an extremely hardworking team, both here in Washington and back in Illinois. We all understand why we’re here.

By Cady Zuvich Posted at 4:06 p.m.
TakeFive

April 14, 2014

Take Five: Pedro R. Pierluisi

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Puerto Rico’s Democratic representative in Congress, Res. Cmmsr. Pedro R. Pierluisi, discusses his trip on Air Force One and working as a staffer.

Q. While you were attending law school at GWU, you worked as an aide to then-Res. Cmmsr. Baltasar Corrada del Río. How did working as a congressional staffer prepare you for returning to Capitol Hill as a member of Congress?

A. I remember walking with him at a fast pace, in between the office and committee hearing room and trying to talk to him about this or that. And seeing the way that he handled himself — always welcoming people from Puerto Rico. What I do when people come in — the way I run this office — is similar to the way he ran it.

Q. After serving as Puerto Rico’s attorney general for four years, you practiced law in the private sector for a decade. Why did you decide to run for public office again?

A. I was approached by then-Res. Cmmsr. Luis Fortuño — he was going to be running for governor. He approached me and proposed that we run as a ticket from day one. Two out of [my] four [children] had already graduated from college. So I had two out of four and I said, “Well, if I’m going to ever do it, let me do it now.”

Q. You were one of five children, so can you describe what it was like growing up in a large family?

A. I was the middle child so I was a bit spoiled by my mother. … When I was in her belly she had an oven — estufa — a stove that blew up. And she was like six months pregnant or something like that when it happened. And she burned herself badly so she was so worried about me. And so when I was born it was like a gift of God that I was alive and well.

Q. In 2011, President Barack Obama visited Puerto Rico, the first sitting president to do so since John F. Kennedy. What is your fondest memory from his trip?

A. My Air Force ride back with him. I came back with him, pretty much on our own with a couple of people and the Secret Service. And you know he was in his office and so on and I was at the VIP area having dinner, watching a movie. Right after the movie ended, the president comes in.  So he says, “So did you have a good time?” “Yeah the dinner was great, I watched a movie.”  He said, “So what did you see?” And I said, “Unknown.”

And then he says, “Is it any good?” And I said, “You know what, yeah, it’s pretty good. But you know this plane is too noisy. I think I’m going to have to rent it at home because I missed half of the dialogue.” So he laughed because I think I’m the first one who’s on Air Force One and I’m complaining about it!  He’s cracking [up] — like saying, “This guy’s a character, look what he tells me!”

Q. What is one thing you would like your fellow members of Congress to know about Puerto Rico?

A.  People from all over the world live in America and you can be an American and yet also be very proud of your ethnic, racial, cultural, roots. That’s Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s what America’s becoming.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 1:06 p.m.
Reps, TakeFive

April 7, 2014

Take Five: Rep. Alan Lowenthal

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., talks about participating in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements as well as how playing racquetball helped him get things done in the California Legislature.

Q. Before you became a legislator, you taught community psychology at California State University, Long Beach. Why did you decide to study and ultimately teach this subject?

A. I went to graduate school during the civil rights movement and also the war in Vietnam. I was at Ohio State University working on my Ph.D., and I was in the clinical psychology program. I became more and more convinced, as did a lot of other psychologists, young folks who were in graduate school like myself, that psychology was not relevant. Why didn’t we understand what was happening among the reaction against the Vietnam War? Why didn’t we understand more about what was going on in our communities with the rise of issues, women’s issues, African-American issues, and others?

So there was a new group of psychologists in graduate programs and students who really did not want to study how you treat people for problems, but how do you prevent them? And so it broadened psychology. But it really enabled me to incorporate my academic beliefs in the study of behavior as well as my desire to be relevant in my community, to promote well-being in my community, and to understand the various diversities and different groups in my community.

Q. What was it like participating in the anti-Vietnam War movement and civil rights protests while you were at Ohio State?

A. It was a time when we believed everything was possible. I think we’ve kind of lost that in this country. And maybe we shouldn’t have had it — maybe it was a fantasy. But we really believed and there really was a sense that we were making great changes in the nation. We were finally beginning to acknowledge a great oppression that had taken place to people of color, to women, to people of different sexual orientation.

Q: You’re a baseball fan — who is your favorite player?

A. Well, I love the Los Angeles Dodgers. I love them all. If I had to pick one person — I grew up worshipping Sandy Koufax. So I have a particular fondness for pitchers.  I love Clayton Kershaw. He reminds me of Koufax, he’s dominating.

But I grew up — I lived and died as a kid with Jackie Robinson. Jackie Robinson had probably more influence on who I was, who I became, than any other person.

Q. Why did you start playing racquetball?

A. When I was at Cal State Long Beach, I was in a regular Friday morning and weekend tennis game. And after a while I realized I didn’t have that much time. So I learned that I could play racquetball, which used some of the same skills, at 6:30 or 7 in the morning, be finished by 8 or 8:30, and I’d still have the whole day.

I got a lot of legislation out of the state Legislature out of playing racquetball. We got a courthouse in Long Beach, much of it. And we also got the independent redistricting commission out of the California state Senate because I played with the leader of the Republican Party, Dick Ackerman, and Ackerman became my buddy. I played with Ackerman for years and years.

Q. What’s a misconception about life in California?

A. You know, the misconception that I think many people have is that somehow California is dysfunctional. It doesn’t work, it’s kind of tilted, and all the nuts in the world are in California. And I find it just the opposite. I find California is very progressive, very thoughtful, future-oriented, has real concern about not only its children but its children’s children, what the future’s going to be like. California is an attitude, and it’s an attitude that really is all-encompassing, appreciates diversity, looks at everybody as a strength.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:54 p.m.
Reps, TakeFive

March 17, 2014

Take Five: Rep. Scott Perry

Take Five: Rep. Scott Perry

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., discusses his military service and reciting the Gettysburg Address. Perry, not afraid to show his softer side, also explains why “Out of Africa” is one of his favorite movies.

Q. You were born in San Diego, so how did you end up in Pennsylvania?

A. It’s an unflattering story of broken family and a time in the country where women in the working world with children were discouraged.  So my mom went to work for an airline — she couldn’t have children — so she hid my brother and me by putting an ad in the paper and sending us to a family while she was on a trip.  And then she would come and retrieve us.  And flying took her to Florida and that’s where we stayed for a while.  And then from Florida, flying took her to Pennsylvania, which is where I ended up, so that’s kind of how that whole thing happened.

Q. As an Iraq War veteran and a National Guardsman for more than 30 years, how has your military service contributed to your role in Congress?

A. First of all, it teaches you to get along with a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds with different perspectives. It forces you, unfortunately, to have patience for the things that you can’t get done because in the military when you’re the commander, so it shall be written, so it shall be done. That’s how it works.

But when you start working in a different civilian arena, it’s not that way.  And so you either learn that there’s a different way or you fail.  And working in the community, and so on and so forth, outside the military arena, the only way you can get things accomplished is to shed that. For me, what it really does is it highlights the two very different paradigms in the two different organizations of civil society and the military. They do not mix up very well.

Q. What was your favorite moment of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg last year?

A.  My favorite moment, quite honestly, when I think back, was my opportunity to recite the Gettysburg Address. … When you start looking at it and the words and where the inflection and the emphasis might be, I found out that it took me maybe 150 times of practicing it until I got it right — to my standard of where I thought it should be to do it justice.  And so when you get it to that point and realize the gravity of each word and how they fit the times of the nation and with each other, it’s really, really something special, which is why it is a great thing.

Q. I read that during your congressional race you would relax by working on your home, which you mostly built yourself.  How do you relax when you’re in D.C.?

A. What makes you think I relax when I’m in D.C.?  I guess what I really like to do and it’s not really — it is some relaxation, it’s a little bit of a break from the action — is to go out and run on the mall.  I iPod up, but you know my schedule here usually starts around 6 and ends around 1 or 1:30.  So I’m trying to maximize my time here and there’s not a lot of relaxation.

Q.  What is your favorite movie and why?

A. Can I have two? For one single movie in and of itself, it’s “Out of Africa.” For me, that movie shows the differences, just the very visceral difference, between men and women in relationships, and how hard life can be, and also the triumphs of life.  But I also love “Band of Brothers.” But that’s a series of movies, which shows the element of the human struggle and sacrifice and puts a value to everything that we enjoy every moment of every day in this country.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 10 a.m.
Reps, TakeFive

November 18, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Bill Flores

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, discusses Texas A&M football, life on the ranch and snow skiing.

Q. As a Texas A&M alumnus, how do you feel about Johnny Manziel’s behavior on and off the football field?

A. His behavior on the field is exceptional. He still has a little maturing to go through off the field. Hopefully that’ll come with age. We all go through that same struggle when we’re younger.

Q. What was life like growing up on the ranch?

A. The work was hard, the hours were long, and since I was working for family, there was no pay involved. But I have to say, the work was very fulfilling. For instance, if I built a mile of fence, the feeling of satisfaction I got when I looked back and looked at that mile of fence … that made me feel good.

Q. How long has your family been in Texas? How do you define a Texan?

A. My family came from Spain and settled in the area near Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1725. So I’m a ninth-generation Texan. But I don’t know if you’d call us Texans because it predates Texas; it predates the United States. I’ll have to go back and come up with a better definition.

Q. What are some of your hobbies?

A. Well, my two primary hobbies are snow skiing and flying. I learned how to ski when I was in high school, when I was 18. And I just love that particular sport. My other hobby of flying is something I’m passionate about as well. I’m a private pilot … I have about 2,500 hours of pilot and command time.

Q. Where do you do your snow skiing?

A. The primary place I go is Telluride, Colo. There’s just no more beautiful place in the world to ski — well, I don’t think there’s any more beautiful place in the world to do anything.

November 11, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Tony Cardenas

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., talks about saving an elephant, growing up in the Valley and getting lost underground.

Q. While on the Los Angeles City Council, you were a major animal rights activist. What motivated you to get involved with that cause?
A. My staff was given some info about Billy the Elephant suffering in our zoo. To be honest, I told my staff I don’t want to look at it, it’s not what I came here for, but it was so horrific, when I sat down and read it, I had to do something about it. I got involved in that issue and immediately got involved in domestic animal issues.

Q. You launched district and city-wide efforts to improve the environment, collecting more than 56,000 tons of trash. How did you go about that project?
A. This is the district I grew up in. Half is residential, [the] other half is chrome-plating plants, dump sites, things of that nature. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I created an environmental justice improvement zone. It was important for us to have the fire department and San Fernando city attorney’s office [involved] before we allowed someone to … expand.

Q. You are one of 11 children. What’s one stereotype that people may have about large families that isn’t true?
A. One of the stereotypes is that the family has too many kids. We actually heard that one. They would say “they live in the Valley” and assumed some of us would end up being a gang member. I’m the youngest, I’m 50. None of us have ever been in the backseat of a police car or involved with drugs or alcohol.

Q. Have you ever gotten lost in Washington?
A. Just last week! When I get in those tunnels, in the basement, I end up taking the wrong turn and getting frustrated. It’s kind of embarrassing for staff when they see that lost look on your face and the pin.

Q. What sporting team do you have to see when they travel through D.C. or when you’re back home in California?
A. My favorite sporting team is the Lakers. I used to love football when I was a kid and my favorite team was the Rams. If I go to one game a year, that’s a big year for me.

November 4, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Steve Daines

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., discusses mountaintop experiences, doing business in China and just when exactly he plans to announce his bid for Senate.

Q. You have been married for 25 years to your wife, Cindy. Tell me about your wedding or how it all came to be.
A. Before we got married, I proposed to Cindy on top of a Montana mountain peak. We got engaged on Hyalite Peak, which is a 10,000-foot peak. It was a round-trip, 15-mile hike from the car and back. I surprised her with a diamond on the top.

Q. Tell me about your 13 years with Procter & Gamble before you ran for Congress.
A. I was hired right out of college when I went to work for P&G. We were asked one day if we would consider moving to China to launch a business; it was not to outsource in any way. It was to take an American company and market it to China. We went over there with two [kids] and we came back with two more.

Q. What’s the biggest surprise when you fly back to Montana?
A. It’s just the wide open space we have and the beauty of our state. There’s a certain culture we have in Montana, a can-do attitude and strong work ethic. It’s a state and a country that doesn’t want to be told what to do. It’s that free spirit that really separates the American West and runs through the veins of Montana.

Q. Some members live in boats, rent row houses on the Hill or live out of hotels. What’s your preference for your home away from home in D.C.?
A. I look at how I can maximize my productivity; being a fifth-generation Montanan, I’m not real patient with traffic. I’ve got a little one bedroom apartment that I walk to work from every day. I don’t have a car here. The days start early and finish late; it’s nothing very fancy. It kind of reminds me of going back to my college days. We’ve got a Costco blow-up mattress for when the kids come out to visit.

Q. What’s the big takeaway for you personally from the government shutdown and how did it affect your rumored Senate bid announcement that was supposed to take place in early October?
A. 
It was never the desire of anybody to see that [shutdown] happen. We kept our team focused on serving the people that we were elected to serve. We kept a skeleton crew going, working back in Montana to tell Montanans what’s going on. I have $1.1 million in cash on hand and we will announce it soon.

October 28, 2013

Take Five: Sen. Brian Schatz

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, discusses life on the islands, traveling between Hawaii and D.C., and his twin brother.

Q. What’s your favorite beach or getaway location that tourists don’t know about?

A. I’m not sure I want to tell you that. But actually, my favorite place is a body surfing spot in Honolulu called Point Panic. It also happens to be near the proposed Obama presidential center, so in the president’s post-presidential time, if he wants to jump in the water, he may.

Q: How do feel about the tourists there?

A. We’re big fans of tourism. We’ve set up a situation where it’s a symbiotic relationship. There are sometimes tension in the ocean, but for the most part everyone understands how to get along.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your work with nonprofit organizations before coming Congress.

A. I ran a social service agency on O’ahu, the main island, providing language translation, mental-health services and support for homeless and people who are having difficulty with housing. I did that for just over eight years and it helped to ground me.

Q. How do you manage having a life in both D.C. and Hawaii?

A. I drink an enormous amount of water and I try to follow one simple rule which is to never complain. … You gotta drink a lot of water when you’re on airplanes for [10 hours]. You get dehydrated very, very easily and so that’s the one piece of travel advice I was given and will give to everyone is, ‘Drink more water than you feel like drinking — before and after every plane ride.”

Q. Is there anything else that would be interesting to know about you?

A. You may not know that I have an identical twin brother who lives in Honolulu. … After I became lieutenant governor and then a U.S. senator, he has taken to shaving his head and growing out his goatee so he doesn’t have to spend all of his time saying, “I’m not Brian.”

September 30, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Janice Hahn

Take Five: Rep. Janice Hahn

Hahn hangs out with her grandchildren before the Congressional Women’s Softball Game in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week, Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., talks about her dad, the grandkids and her favorite D.C. eats.

Q. I read that your father [former LA County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn] was the only public official from the city to show up at the Los Angeles airport to welcome Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962. What do you remember about that?

A. I was not with him, but I do remember when he came home that evening he talked about the time that he spent alone with Dr. King. My dad picked him up from the airport and drove him around Compton because he wanted Dr. King to see the African-American community in LA, and then he took him to this office and gave him a cup of coffee. When my dad came home that night, he spoke about Dr. King’s hope for America and what he hoped his children would be able to experience one day. When Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, my dad always thought he heard it first.

Q. You have five grandchildren. How often do you get to see them?
A. Well, two live in Bend, Ore., and three are in Colorado. I see them as much as I can. The three from Colorado were here when I was inaugurated, then they came again when I played in the Congressional Softball Game recently, saying, “Go Mimi!” My 7-year-old Brooklyn wanted to celebrate her birthday with cupcakes in the Rotunda of the Capitol.
Q. You raised three children as a single mother. What misconceptions do you believe the public has about single parents?
A. I think more and more people are single parents. I think there’s less misconception about it because it’s really kind of the new norm. Vice President Joe R. Biden Jr. was a single parent after the death of his wife. I know more and more single parents.
Q. You’ve been a congresswoman for two years now. How would you describe the city of Washington to someone who has never visited or lived here?

A. It’s on a swamp. [She laughs.] I tell everyone what a beautiful, historic, fascinating city this is. I am reminded of that every time I fly in from LA, when I catch my first glimpse of the Washington Monument or our nation’s Capitol. Every summer, when you see all the families who come here to tour this great city, the history really speaks for itself. I’m always inviting my friends from California to visit me. The weather is a little challenging, though.

Q. What’s your guilty pleasure eatery in D.C.?
A. Acqua al 2 at Eastern Market. It’s got wonderful Italian food and then across the street from that is a gelato place [Pitango]. Those are probably my two favorites.

September 23, 2013

Take Five: Howard Coble

Take Five: Howard Coble

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., talks about first jobs, post-Coast Guard life and the Grammys.

Q. You started out working in retail in Greensboro, N.C.?

A. I worked at Belk’s department store, mostly in men’s clothing. I started at probably 14 years old. My dad worked there for 42 years, mostly at the downtown store. It was kind of a non-negotiable. He said, “You will go to work.”

Q. Greensboro, N.C., is home to six colleges, so what caused you to attend Guilford College?

A. I transferred to Guilford from Appalachian State to be near home. I was thinking about studying for the ministry at the time, and I thought a liberal arts college would be a better fit for that.

Q. You spent more than two decades serving in the Coast Guard. How has it enabled you to better understand that niche within the military in the subcommittees you now serve on?

A. I enlisted 61 years ago on Sept. 16. I had a couple of friends that had enlisted earlier, and they’re the ones that talked me into joining the Coast Guard. It was a good learning experience that served me well, particularly on the Coast Guard Committee. I was the former chairman and I was the only member of the Coast Guard now serving in Congress.

Q. The Triad region of North Carolina is world-famous for its annual furniture market. Have you found any good furniture places in Washington?

A. I hadn’t really looked because I found all of mine back home. I bought a house up here, though. It’s located 10 blocks from Navy Yard.

Q. You attended the Grammys in 2008. What was your favorite or most memorable part of the show?

A. The late Earl Scruggs. He was confirmed with his Lifetime Achievement Award. They asked me to present him that award since Earl was from Cleveland County in North Carolina. I was very pleased and honored to do that.

September 16, 2013

Take Five: Rep. Brad Wenstrup

Take Five: Rep. Brad Wenstrup

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to his or her legislative work.

This week Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, talks medicine, food and high-school football.

Q. You practiced medicine for a number of years. What is the biggest difference between your time as a doctor and your time now as a representative?

A. When you’re a doctor, you see a patient and you’re presented with a problem and you make your diagnosis. Then you present the treatment plan and then you go through with the patient explaining how long it will take, what you have to do and you go and solve the problem. In D.C., I feel like I can make a diagnosis and even have a treatment plan, but I’ve got to convince 535 others that this is the way to go and so that makes it a little bit different. But it’s still problem-solving on either end; it’s addressing an issue and coming up with a solution for it as best you can.

Q. You also served in Iraq. What was the most meaningful experience you had during your time in the Army?

A. Well it was really the most violent time of the war and I tell people it was the worst thing I ever had to do, but at the same time the best thing that I ever got to do. By that I mean the people that you serve with, and you see how well people can come together for one cause, one common mission, and you’re all wearing the same clothes and it’s just amazing how politics is so far removed from really what you’re doing on your mission and that’s just an interesting dynamic. I’m certainly glad that I had the opportunity to experience that in my life.

Q. What is your favorite movie and why?

A. One of my favorite movies that I ever watched was “The Sting.” One, I always liked Paul Newman. I thought he was a class act and always carried himself well as a person, and you know as we saw later in his life, a philanthropist. It was a clever movie and it pulled me, and I think that’s why I liked it: Because I fell for it, I fell for the sting while I was watching the movie.

Q. You are also a Cincinnati native. How does the food in Washington stack up against The Queen City?

A. I think they both have a lot to be proud of — there are plenty of fine restaurants in D.C. and there are plenty in Cincinnati, and thank you for recognizing some of the culinary expertise Cincinnati has.

Q. Finally, as a St. Xavier High School graduate, which has become a football powerhouse recently and is in the top 25 again this year, do you have any predictions for the Bombers?

A. Well I went to the game last week and they beat a team from Indianapolis called Ben Davis, and Ben Davis is kind of like the Colerain of Indianapolis … Ben Davis had beaten Indy Cathedral the week before and St. X trounced them … so things are looking pretty good.

By JM Rieger Posted at 1:10 p.m.
DC, Reps, TakeFive

September 9, 2013

Take Five: Suzan DelBene

Take Five: Suzan DelBene

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work. This week, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., talks about her travels during recess, social media and the great outdoors.

Q. During recess you traveled with other members of Congress. Where did you go?

A. I went to Israel. [House Minority Whip Steny H.] Hoyer organized the trip and we went all over. It was an educational experience; we saw many different areas, from the southern part of the country and up north to the Lebanese border. We heard about the history of these places, which is important as we [head] back to Washington.

Q. What prompted you to want to be a member of Congress? You had several nice job titles before (Microsoft executive, Washington Department of Revenue director).

A. I had great opportunities despite financial struggles that my family went through growing up. I went to college with student loans and work study, and I believe that it’s important for everyone to have that opportunity. Folks are going to keep fighting for the chance for a better future, and I want us to preserve that. Full story

September 2, 2013

Take Five: Robert W. Goodlatte

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work. This week, Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., talks about National League teams vs. American League teams, his favorite hiking trail and what’s on his reading list.

Q. What made you decide to transition from lawyer to congressman?

A. I had always been interested in Congress. In fact, after law school, I worked as district director for former Congressman Caldwell Butler before practicing law. My interest in politics and participation at the local level over the years, as well as my desire to serve the 6th District, led me to run for Congress. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, my law background is put to use on a daily basis!

Q. Where is your favorite place to go hiking? Why?

A. The Appalachian Trail, which winds across the ridges and valleys of my district for more than 200 miles. One of my favorite spots is McAfee Knob. It’s hard to beat the view from the top!  It is said to be the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.

Q. On Facebook you list the Red Sox as being a team you like. How did that happen? Do the Nationals get any love, as long as they are not playing the Red Sox?

A. I am a lifelong Red Sox fan, but the Nationals are now my National League team. The Salem Red Sox are a minor-league team right outside the 6th District that I also follow closely. I enjoy seeing players in Boston who have moved up through Salem and eventually make it to the big leagues. It would be great to see the Nationals play the Red Sox in the World Series.

Q. Of all the people you follow on Twitter, whose tweets do you enjoy the most and why?

A. I follow a lot of local news outlets. It’s a good way to keep up with what’s going on at home.

Q. Two books you like are on John Adams and Abraham Lincoln. Do you have a penchant for historical nonfiction or does your literary taste run the gamut?

A. I read just about every genre, but I am particularly interested in presidential history. I am currently reading “A Passion to Lead: Theodore Roosevelt in His Own Words,” which is edited by Laura Ross. Another interesting fact is that I have visited homes of 42 of the 44 presidents.

August 5, 2013

Take Five: Robert Pittenger

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work. This week Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., talks about being banished from caffeine and what he’s learned from strong leaders.

Q. You have long days while Congress is in session. Are you a coffee/tea/soda addict now? What is your beverage of choice to get you through the day?

A. My staff won’t let me have caffeine. They say I’m high strung enough without it! The long days and busy schedule have forced me to start wearing rubber-soled shoes. After work, I enjoy a club soda with a splash of cranberry juice, and occasionally a glass of wine.

Q. You began your career in service to your faith. Do you continue working with faith-based projects?

A. Actually, I was in east Asia on a mission trip when I was first contacted about running for Congress. My wife and I met while working for a campus ministry organization, and we continue to be actively involved with several Christian ministry groups.

Q. What is your favorite movie of all time and why?

A. “Patton.” Gen. Patton was a remarkable military leader, and I am always interested in learning from great leaders.

Q. What are your plans over the congressional recess?

A. “Recess” was in the fourth grade when you go outside and play kickball! During August, I will host seven town hall meetings in the district, congratulate summer school graduates and travel to Israel with Majority Leader Eric Cantor. May I have my club soda now?

Q. If you could travel anywhere in the world [some place you have not visited], where would you go, and why?

A. Australia — a beautiful country that is fertile for growth and great opportunity.

July 29, 2013

Take Five: Ami Bera

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., talks about the serenity of waterfront spots, as well as the similarities of two capital cities.

Q. What, if any, successes are you most proud of in your term in Congress so far?

A. I’ve only been in Congress since January, but I’m proud of the work I’ve done with my colleagues to start to create a sense of bipartisanship in the House. Our freshman class gets along very well, both Democrats and Republicans, and I think over time this class is really going to leave its mark on Congress. I’m also proud to be a co-chair of the No Labels Problem Solvers coalition, a group of members from both parties who are working together to try to break through partisan gridlock.

Q. As a congressional representative, you obviously don’t have “normal” work hours. Are you planning to take a break over the recess?

A. During August, I have several events planned in my Sacramento County district. Among the many things I’ll be doing are Congress on Your Corner meetings with constituents, a veterans resource fair and town hall to help our vets get the services they need, an event with local business leaders and our local Chamber of Commerce, and several back to school events. In addition to time in the district, I’ll also be traveling to India and Israel to deepen my understanding of the U.S. relations with these key allies and to promote trade and economic development in the Sacramento region.

Q. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

A. I love the outdoors. I’m an avid fisherman and love to get out on the water when I can. I also love backpacking and going on summer backpacking trips. Most people also may not know I’m the only Unitarian Universalist in Congress and only the third Indian-American ever elected to Congress.

Q. Do you play or follow a particular sport or sports?

A. I played basketball all through high school. Now I golf and snowboard when I can, which is not often. And when I’m back home, I spend a lot of time swimming.

Q. What is your favorite place in D.C. that reminds you of home?

A. I love to walk along the Potomac River. Sacramento is the River City and there are many great waterfront spots in my district. Being on the water is incredibly peaceful and it’s one of the most beautiful aspects of both Washington, D.C., and the Sacramento region.

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