Capitol Hill Intern Update (August 17, 2020)

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It’s convention time! Any other year, members of Congress and a lot of staffers would be headed to host cities this week or next for each party’s event. This year, however, most of the action is online.

And while convention weeks usually bring Congressional action to a stand-still, things are still stirring with no deal yet reached on a COVID-19 relief package and the House returning at the end of the week for a vote on a bill to address concerns with the US Postal Service. Both issues are prompting a surge in constituent messages and advocacy, which, according to a new study from the Congressional Management Foundation, was already through the roof.

So crank up the AC, settle in with the livestreams, and power through those correspondence backlogs. You got this!

Did you miss past issues? Check out the archives and resources on Medium.

Got questions, suggestions, or ideas? We want to hear it!

What to Watch this Week

THIS WEEK ON THE FLOOR

The House returns on Saturday (maybe) to begin consideration of a bill related to the US Postal Service. The Senate is out for August recess.

THIS WEEK IN COMMITTEE

No hearings scheduled.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Convention time! (what to expect)

The Democratic National Convention runs this week, Monday through Thursday. For the first time ever, it’s virtual!

  • Check out the agenda
  • Monday: speeches addressing “monumental challenges”
  • Tuesday: presidential roll call vote
  • Wednesday: nomination of VP candidate Harris [D, CA], former president Obama speaks
  • Thursday: Biden accepts Democratic nomination
  • Sign up for assorted “virtual policy roundtables” throughout the week

The Republican National Convention kicks off next week in Charlotte.

  • The theme is “Honoring the Great American Story” (agenda not yet available), with daily sub-themes and a 10:30 PM ET “nightly surprise” for each evening:
    — Monday: “the Land of Promise”
    — Tuesday: the “Land of Opportunity”
    — Wednesday: the “Land of Heroes”
    — Thursday the “Land of Greatness”
  • “Official business” will be held onsite in Charlotte and attendees will be be required to wear masks, get tested, and wear special contact-tracing badges
  • Still an open question: where the president will deliver speech accepting the Republican nomination; White House Office of Special Counsel says White House lawn is OK

Will negotiations resume on a coronavirus relief bill?

  • House and Senate told members the would have 24 hours to return to DC for a vote if a deal is reached on a new COVID-19 response package
  • But there’s not much movement towards returning to the negotiating table

The House is reportedly coming back to vote on legislation related to the U.S. Postal Service

  • The House was out for August recess and scheduled to return September 14 (or with 24 hours notice if a COVID-19 deal reached)
  • On Sunday, Speaker Pelosi [D, CA] said members will return at the end of the week for a vote as early as Saturday to address issues at the U.S. Postal Service” (what’s going on)
  • The House Oversight Committee moved up a hearing with the Postmaster General (originally scheduled for September 17) now set for Monday August 24 (in between the DNC and RNC conventions)
  • Postmaster General DeJoy has until Friday to produce documents requested by the committee; some members are ready to use “inherent contempt” if he refuses to comply
  • As history would have it: Supreme Court case confirming Congress’ right to detain someone for “inherent contempt” was established in Jurney v. MacCracken, a case involving — you guessed it — the postmaster general (really!)
  • The constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7) does not *establish* the postal service, but it does *specifically* give Congress the power to establish post offices and post roads
  • The USPS consistently ranks as Americans’ favorite federal agency

Of Interest

  • Former staffers are telling tales in a new weekly podcast called “STAFFER
  • Less that a quarter of the nations’s 5,000 colleges are planning to offer in-person courses this semester; many students are calling for tuition reductions
  • In case you get this question from constituents: There is no “House jail”

How Remote Work is Changing Congressional Internships

In a recent webinar, College to Congress, Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) and the Modernization Staff Association, shared new data on the prevalence of remote internships — and a few surprising benefits.

view the video (and share the link with your office!)

One positive impact: remote work is helping interns and full time staff in the district feel more connected to the policy work occurring in DC.

Also: remote internships are providing more opportunity for students around the country. Carlos Mark Vera, Executive Director of Pay Our Interns, says, “Remote Congressional internships can level the playing field by taking relocation and housing costs out of the equation, but it is still important for offices to pay interns. While those working remotely do not have the same expenses as an in person internship, many still have to pay bills.”

Another good reason to pay interns: to address limitations on technology access for unpaid interns. Paid interns can be provided with official devices and remote access to the office network. From what we’ve heard, even a stipend as low as $100 per month can make a difference on that score!

Most offices are hosting remote interns: In a recent survey of Hill offices, the Modernization Staff Association found that 54% of respondent offices did offer some form of remote internship over the summer and 47% intend to have remote interns this fall.

Offices need the support and fresh perspective of interns more than ever! Congressional offices have seen significant increases in the volume of constituent communications according to a new report from the Congressional Management Foundation.

Events This Week

Policy briefings and roundtables are a great way to get familiar with new topics. You may even find the ideal subject for your next research paper! Make sure to take notes and share with your colleagues who cover the issues discussed.

Monday AUG 17 11 AM ET — Back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Balancing students’ right to education against public health
Brookings

Monday AUG 17 1 PM ET — COVID-19 and America’s Health: How Do We Heal?
Center for American Progress

Monday AUG 17 4 PM ET — Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism The Washington History Seminar

Tuesday AUG 18 10 AM ET — National Press Club Virtual Newsmaker: Amb. John Bolton
National Press Club

Tuesday AUG 18 12:45 PM ET — The Dilemmas and Opportunities of the New Global Disorder
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI)

Tuesday AUG 18 1 PM ET — Big Tech, Power & Diplomacy
TheBridge and All Tech is Human

Tuesday AUG 18 1:30 PM ET — POLITICO 2020 Playbook: Convention Special Edition
Politico

Tuesday AUG 18 1:30 PM ET — Disaster Tech: Preparing for Unprecedented Crisis
Aspen Tech Policy Hub

Tuesday AUG 18 3 PM ET — A Book Talk on America in the World
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Wednesday AUG 19 1 PM ET — The Effects of COVID-19 on Our Democracy
Center for American Progress

Wednesday AUG 19 1 PM ET — Building a Successful Career on Capitol Hill
George Washington School of Political Management and College to Congress

Wednesday AUG 19 2:30 PM ET — Webinar — STEM perspectives: Attitudes, opportunities, and barriers in America’s STEM workforce
AEI

Wednesday AUG 19 2:30 PM ET — Toward Stakeholder Capitalism: The Business Roundtable Statement in 2020
Business Roundtable

Thursday AUG 20 12 PM ET — The Prescription: Fiscal Policy for the COVID-19 Economy
Tax Policy Center

Thursday AUG 20 1 PM ET — Making 2021 the Start of a Better Way Forward
Center for American Progress

Thursday AUG 20 1 PM ET — Ripe for Reform: Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century
R Street

Thursday AUG 201 PM ET — Powering America’s Economic Recovery
Politico

For your Calendar

AUG 26 7:30 PM ET — Join the Women’s Congressional Staff Association for a “Netflix Party” and screening/discussion of “Suffragette” (Register)

ONGOING EVENT SERIES — Check out the Tri-Caucus Staff Association’s “Transition 2020: How to Get the Job You Want” Virtual Professional Development Panel Series (with events through September 28)

Find more events at Hill Happenings

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Contributors

This newsletter is brought to you by these organizations. We know today’s interns are tomorrow’s Congressional staffers. And we want you to have a great experience — no matter where the internship happens!

Advocacy Blueprints

Congressional Management Foundation

College to Congress

Democracy Fund

Modernization Staff Association

Pay Our Interns

POPVOX LegiDash

TourTrackr

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