Last a week I attended my first House hearing! It was a hearing of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment with the title Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis. There were four young witnesses giving a statement, one of them being the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg!
The Congress have many office buildings around the Capitol where the representatives have their offices and the committees have their meeting rooms. All congressional hearings are open to the public, the only thing you need to do is to check where the hearing is (this one was at the Rayburn building), show up early enough, especially if there are famous politicians in the committee or famous witnesses there to give their statements, and remember to not bring any fluids because of the security check. Otherwise it’s just to walk right in, which is pretty cool!
I arrived an hour and a half before, just in case, and there were already some people in queue before me. More started arriving an hour before the hearing, and by the time we were let in the Committee room, everyone didn’t fit inside anymore. Being there one hour in advance is the rule of thumb, and even earlier if media attention is expected.
It was interesting to follow the hearing. Because of the issue – climate change – it was easy enough to detect which representatives were from which party. Some of them asked fairly condescending questions from the young activists, and clearly didn’t want to face the issue at hand. There were some interesting representatives present, too – for example the Vice President Mike Pence’s brother Greg Pence, and Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American to serve in Congress.
I encourage everyone visiting DC to check out an interesting hearing – you can just wander around the corridors in Congress and who knows who you will meet!