By Jack Harrison and Georgia Hicks
Hello from the United States! We are now a few weeks into the program and are absolutely loving it. Being in the middle of US government is an incredible experience- from seeing the inner workings to really simple things like seeing your political hero in the corridors.
After getting our ID badges on the first day, we began interning- everyone’s experiences have been very different, with tasks ranging from giving tours to our constituents of the Capitol Building, answering constituent calls, attending Congressional committee hearings and briefings, and getting the Member’s daily briefing binder ready in the morning, and much, much more.
The weather was freezing- literally- when we arrived, we all woke up to a thick layer of snow (by Australian standards) a few days later. The same day that the Hume Highway back home started melting, DC experienced what has been dubbed a ‘bomb cyclone’, with temperatures in normally-warm Florida reaching so low that iguanas started falling from the sky (really falling from the trees, but it looked like the sky).
Last week we attended a briefing with the Congressional Liaison Office at the Australian Embassy. It was great to see fellow Australians and most excitingly to hear Australian colloquialisms again, like ‘strewth’ and ‘g’day’. They provided a great explanation of the role of the Embassy and some of the ways they can help us.
It’s a very exciting time in D.C.- the newspapers are talking about a possible government shutdown in the days ahead (the government will officially run out of money unless a bipartisan deal can be struck before Friday, which the Democrats are insisting won’t happen without some kind of deal on immigration and the controversial DACA program). The political landscape is proving to be a potent mix of short-term firestorms- such as the language the President may or may not have used to describe Haiti- and the long-term issues- like the budget and the Russia Investigation- which always seem as though they’re slow-motion train wrecks waiting to be fixed or go up in flames.
In the meantime, though, there are calls to be answered, and memos to be drafted, and an abundance of identical halls to get hopelessly lost in.