A day with Senator Shaheen by Thomas Lucic

by tuftsigl
Jul 20

As part of my internship in Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) Washington, D.C. office, I had the opportunity to shadow Senator Shaheen for a day. One of the reasons that I wanted to intern for Senator Shaheen is that she is on both the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), which both had hearings on my shadow day. I attended both meetings and took notes for members of Senator Shaheen’s staff.

The SASC hearing was focused on a new provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to form small mission teams made up of representatives from different DOD branches and agencies. I was particularly interested in General (ret) Stanley McChrystal’s testimony. General McChrystal was the commander of the elite Joint Special Operations Command as well as coalition forces in Afghanistan. He talked about how heavy top-down management strategies are outdated and emphasized the need for commanders to trust their subordinates.

Even more interesting was the SFRC hearing on the coalition strategy against ISIL. The witnesses emphasized the enduring challenges of the situation in Syria and the presence of Shiite militias in Sunni towns in Iraq. However, they were optimistic about ISIL’s loss of territory in Iraq and reported that the group had been driven out of 47% of the territory that it once controlled there. I was privileged to be able to sit in the staff area for that committee right behind the Senators - and take notes. Several Republican Senators criticized administration policy in the region, yet they were very appreciative of the witnesses’ hard work.

To end the day, Senator Shaheen was interviewed by C-Span about the books she reads. I learned that she was an English major and shares my love of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. My shadow day was a highlight of my internship so far and I am learning a tremendous amount about how the legislative process works.