There are good people....
What a crazy week! It was that last week Congress was going to be in session until after the elections and both the House and Senate either had to agree on a budget for 2023, or agree on a Continuing Resolution (CR) as the budget for 2022 was set to expire yesterday at midnight. Apparently there are 12 bills that need to be passed for each budget; the House had passed all 12, but the Senate had only passed 6. The senate passed it's CR yesterday and I got to watch the votes live as the House did the same yesterday afternoon. Shutdown averted!
Aside from keeping the government open, some other amazing things happened this week. Congressman DeSaulnier has worked hard for over a year on the Mental Health Matters Act, and this week it passed the House. He was thrilled not because it was an accomplishment for him, but because he wants to make sure everyone has the access to mental health services. He cares, very deeply about people and doing the right thing. Heres a picture of him speaking about the Mental Health Matters Act and my friend and colleague Carl sitting next to him- as he got to be on the House floor for the entire debate. (We were all jealous, but cheering him on!)
Congressman DeSaulnier spent time in the California legislature before becoming a House representative and his record of trying to do the right thing extends all the way back there. This week I got to sit in on a meeting between the Congressman and an old friend of his. She works in the education space and she shared how then California State Senator DeSaulner, 12+ years ago, jump started the process and funding stream to create and operate engaging summer school programs in districts with students who had the most needs. It has been a huge success and serves as a model for districts nationwide. All because he was convinced it was the right thing. (I'm in the bottom right hand corner of this picture.)
I, like many of us, am tired of the how everything now seems partisan when it should be about doing what is right for the American people. I now know there are many people serving in Congress that are trying to do just that, what is right.
He reminded us of that when he took our whole office staff on a tour of the House floor. (Unfortunately, we could not bring any camera in the space). He said that when he gets frustrated (and that is often), he takes a breath and remembers the history of that space. The Capitol, including the House and Senate chambers were being rebuilt during the Civil war. Lincoln insisted on keeping the building going, wanting to show that we would remain one country. For better or worse, that space is a beacon of hope and democracy for many throughout the world.
He showed us where January 6th people were entering and where he, Betsy (his Chief of Staff) and Sarah (my mentor) had to be evacuated to as they were on the floor of the House that day. I got to walk the path the President takes when he enters for the State of the Union. I got to see how they vote and where the press are located. And then I was pinching myself because I get to be a part of our democracy each day. I feel so humbled and blessed to have this opportunity to be part of history.