Things you probably didn’t know

4 Sep

Submitted by a friend.
We don’t have the original source.

“In many cases, lobbyists write the bills. When you have a high-profile issue like a health-care bill, there are five or ten lobbyists per congressperson, and they have a tremendous amount of influence.”

— Former Democrat Representative Alan Grayson, who served from 2009 to 2011

“When I was first elected to the Iowa Senate, I believed if I was right on principle, all I had to do was make a principled argument, and I’d sway people to my side. I tell people about that belief today, and they laugh at me.”

— Republican Representative Steve King

“If you can see it on C-SPAN, it’s probably not real. Most decision-making takes place off camera. On TV, we’re really role-playing, not debating. We haven’t had a real debate in a very long time.”

— Democrat Representative Jim Cooper

“Most of the staffers on the Hill are in their early- or mid-20s. It might mortify the American public, but those are really the people running the country.”

— Amy Ellsworth, a former congressional aide

“Want a sense of how engaged and effective your member of Congress is? Go to to see how many bills he or she has introduced and how many got passed. There are members in there who’ve gotten no bills passed for a decade.”

— Former Representative Alan Grayson

“As soon as you get to Washington, whether you’re a new Republican or a new Democrat, your party pulls you off into a retreat and brainwashes you. They say the No. 1 thing you can do is to defeat the other team. Everything they tell you is through a political prism: ‘What can we do to win?'”

— A former congressman from the Southeast who served more than ten years

“Your calls and e-mails do matter, probably more than you think. We have a system to track every call and e-mail and how many people are for or against something. Before they go to the floor to vote, members ask for those numbers.”

—A former senior congressional aide for two GOP House members

“We get invited to a lot of receptions sponsored by lobbyists, but ethics rules say that you can’t sit down and you can’t have a fork. So the caterers set up standing tables and serve every food you can think of that you can stick with a toothpick.”

—Former Republican Representative Bob Inglis, who served from 1993 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2011

“It’s against ethics regulations to make fund-raising calls from a congressional office. Members go to some office off the Hill and sit there for hours calling potential contributors. It’s time when they could be in committee hearings or taking part in debates or writing their own legislation. They may not be on federal property, but we’re still paying them to do this.”

— Mike Lofgren, GOP congressional staffer for 28 years

“It used to be that members of Congress would buy a place in Washington when they got elected. Now they all get on a plane and head to their districts. That’s part of the reason there’s more partisanship.”

— Former Democrat Representative Marty Meehan, who served from 1993 to 2007

“Never, ever indicate that you are disappointed to be meeting with a staff person. People get fixated on meeting with a member of Congress, but even if you do, it’s going to be a grip-and-grin. Having a good relationship with a staff person can make or break your cause.”

— Stephanie Vance, former Capitol Hill chief of staff

“If you’re a prolific fund-raiser who brings millions of dollars to your party, you get elevated to a leadership position. It happens even if you’re not an effective legislator and have no leadership skills. And boy, does that dumb down the process.”

— A former congressman from the Southeast who served more than ten years

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