This Tuesday a group of my fellow UELIPs and I headed out of the central office and over to the US Capitol to hear the Senate debate on the Every Child Achieves Act. The Every Child Achieves Act is a long overdue attempt to overhaul No Child Left Behind of 2002.
A summary of the bill can be found here.
Congress does not release a schedule of events until the day of, which does not allow much time to plan ahead. Luckily, at DCPS supervisors encourage you to take part in all the incredible events the city has to offer and so we were able to take the afternoon to check it out!
We headed over to the capitol and were discouraged to realize we needed a pass from our senator in order to get into the viewing gallery. It turned out we just needed to find our senator’s offices (right across the street from the capitol!) and they gave us the passes right away! With our passes in hand we headed back to the capitol, went through security, waited in line, went through security, waited in another line, through another security point and then finally we were in the gallery.
As you can imagine security is very tight at the capitol here’s the list of items that you can bring into the capitol itself, but not into the viewing galleries:
- Cans and bottles
- Battery-operated electronic devices (Medical devices are permitted)
- Creams, lotions, or perfumes
- Video recorders or any type of recording device
- Packages, briefcases, backpacks or suitcases
They provided you with bins to store these items while you visit. I had to place my extra pair of shoes in the bin (maybe there is concern that visitors might throw shoes down at the Senators below?), phone, and previously emptied water bottle in a bin.
When you actually make it into the gallery you are directed to open seats where you may not talk, lean on any banisters, take notes, or sleep (a hard one for the younger tourists missing their nap time).
If you are seriously interested in watching what is happening on the floor, CSPAN is probably the best option. When in the gallery you can’t take notes and you aren’t able to pick your own seat so you might end up sitting in a spot where you can’t see the person speaking.
I would recommend visiting the House or the Senate while they’re in session at least once, it’s definitely a bucket list worthy experience!
More info on visiting the Senate here.