On Unity: Event Recap: The Hill Staffers that Make Congress Go Round

Nic Adams

From Nic Adams

"It's a lot easier to find common ground with folks than people think."

-Nic Adams, Professional Staff Member & Advisor to Senator Cornyn, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Friends and fellow citizens,  

Whether forging consensus on landmark legislation or job hunting on Capitol Hill, relationships matter, according to a bipartisan group of longtime Congressional staffers.   

Speaking during last week's panel convened by the Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy, they described how grabbing a cup of coffee can grease the legislative skids or lead to the next opportunity.  

Instead of coffee, Republican staffer Nic Adams met Democratic staffer Ivelisse Porroa-Garcia, at an ice cream social where they forged a personal friendship that yielded professional results.  

Jeremy Hayes, former staffer to the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), discussed the time Senator McCain and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) worked together, despite their distinct ideological differences, to improve the veterans' healthcare system. As explained during the conversation, once the senators reached broad agreement, they left the room, turning the complex and challenging task of transforming the deal into legislation over to their respective staff.  

Convened, in part, with the hope of encouraging current Vanderbilt University students of exploring job opportunities on Capitol Hill, the conversation also explored the differences between working in the House of Representatives, the Senate, caucuses, committees, and personal offices. As noted by Ian Bryan, who parleyed his military experience into his current position as legislative assistant to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), there is no single path to working in Congress. 

We invite you to watch the entire virtual event-The Hill Staffers that Make Congress Go Round. For those interested in starting a DC job search, please find some helpful links below: 

Defining "Unity"  

Recently, the approximate 250 undergraduates enrolled in PSCI 4444: Unity and American Democracy, co taught by Project co-chairs Samar Ali and Jon Meacham, were given the daunting task of defining unity.  We were pleased to publish some of the best examples of student writing on our website, and we hope to share other course highlights in the coming weeks.  I hope you find these student essays as encouraging as I did. 



Gray Sasser  

Executive Director  
The Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy