by Arianna Conte, CPLA Treasurer
No trip to Washington D.C is complete without a trip to the U.S Congress, and CPLA had the opportunity to sit in on proceedings in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. During the Senate session, we witnessed Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and Senator John McCain (R, AZ) fist bump and hug; a truly historic moment. After that, the ten of us left the Senate with high hopes for the House, considering it was the day of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s testimony for her role in Benghazi.
We were faced with one of the longest lines I have ever seen. It took over half an hour to even reach the House chamber, presumably because everyone, ourselves included, wished to see where Hillary Clinton was called to testify. When we finally entered the House, the room was far from filled and two representatives were having and unexpectedly heated debate regarding US mining policies. The sponsor of the bill, from Wyoming, asked for increased mining of essential minerals in the United States in order to hinder the country’s dependence on international minerals. The other representative, from California, opposed the bill and stated that abandoned mines should be re-purposed for mineral drilling in an effort to be more environmentally conscious. We watched for about fifteen minutes before moving on to the next event in our packed itinerary.
This bill hearing was on my mind all day. It reminded me that what is important to me, what is considered a necessary issue in my part of the country, might not be a priority somewhere else, and vice versa. As a native New Englander mining nearly never crosses my mind, but it was clearly an important issue to those two representatives. It was a clear reminder for me that the United States government is a complicated, multi-faceted entity charged with the task of leaving the opinions of millions in the hands of a handful of people. Sitting in on this meeting gave a valuable view of the less-glamorous parts of government, and I am happy to have witnessed it.