tv Setting up a New Congressional Office CSPAN January 1, 2019 10:03am-10:36am EST
's legacy. i am a mother on a mission to represent everyone. >> new congress, new leaders, watching all of c-span. >> c-span interview to jeeps of staff, one from the house and one from the senate to talk about the work that goes into setting up a new capitol hill office. more than 100 new representatives and senators are preparing for the 116th congress which starts thursday. this is 30 minutes. >> in january the 116th congress will convene bringing to capitol hill more than 100 new house members and senators. one of the largest incoming class of freshmen lawmakers in washington in recent years. between election day and the new year these newcomers have to find offices, build them up and hire staff. we will take you behind the scenes of that process with two people who have made it happen before.
we have dana grisham who is chief of staff to senator doug whos in alabama senator filled the seed from departing senator jeff sessions very also joining us is the chief of staff -- you are going to be the new republican -- what is a chief of staff for both of you? >> the chief of staff is the person that makes the trains run in the office. no two days are the same. the personou are that is the gatekeeper for the member and helping them advocate on behalf of their constituents. you are making sure that calendar is in place and you are inquiries to calendar , you are over viewing all the letters that come in. you are touching every aspect of the office and making for the legislative team and scheduling team and communications team are all working to make it an
efficient office. >> i would agree with that assessment. component of being a chief of staff is being a leader and engaging with the senator in my case, have the overall office culture, hiring and finding a team to do all the jobs necessary to make a senate office run. sometimes you are a counselor to junior staffers, a mentor to helpeds, you nurture and grow their careers. thatrying to make sure everyone who needs to see the when theyes them one need to see him in making sure the senator is on schedule and on time. in thisalso engaged political and policy debates in the office. the first jobs
is setting up the office for a new member. how did you get picked for the job? i have known senator jones for quite some time. i am from alabama. i was a houselife chief of staff. i got to know senator jones then when he was a private citizen. i have known him for quite some time. when he won his special election they reached out and they were looking to hire a chief of staff , looking for someone with experience who knew the state. i checked a lot of boxes in that regard. i had worked on the house side for 14 years. i worked in the obama administration for eight years so i have significant experience on the hill and in the executive branch.
i was a good fit. >> jen, how are you picked and whose offices of you set up? congressman be davis's chief of staff because he was a former staffer like myself. this was the second time around he was my boss. i worked for several other members of congress in the private sector. mr. davis was my first member of congress. i had some other experience when i knew him and came back with that experience. he allowed me to be his chief. even though i worked for other members he was the first office i had set up in >> let's talk about the time crunch. , november 6 capitol hill orientation takes place on november 13. the office election day is when they find out if they will get a good office or not.
3 isber 30, then january hhe 100th extinct --116t congress convenes. what is happening between finding out you one and being ready on january 3? building ae it to plane while you are flying it. of time a short period to plan and transition into office. we want in a special election. in a special election to our time was shorter. the second session of the congress had begun, there was legislation on the floor that he had to very quickly get engaged in. you have to get your committees assignments. ande we were hiring staff moving into offices, trying to had places to live, we also
to do the work of the senate. it is a whirlwind in which you are balancing a lot of balls at the same time. it is a short transition. not a lot of advanced time to plan. >> jen? >> this year we had election day on tuesday. the new members started a two-week orientation the next tuesday. they had a week from when they were elected to go and start the orientation process in d.c.. the process was two weeks in the house. we had a break during thanksgiving and they are expected to hire staff in that time and be ready to go when they are sworn in at the beginning of january. from our experience we were lucky in that mr. davis was a staffer who had worked on the hill. we had a lot of pride in that first day. you fully staffed and on day two we were printing letters and
responding to constituents. it is a lot of hard work. host: what is the first order of business when setting up an office? jen: we try to fill out our staff. two of the most important things we did where we hired a person that helped with our finances and to be an administrator for to help get that staffed on bloated and in the system and ready to go and process. we hired some good i.t. folks. turn thosen't computers on day one and our constituents didn't work we were not going to be all to manage all those letters and calls and communications that were so important. host: where does the staff come from what is your ideal candidate? mr. gresham: this is the first elected position -- engaging in the process. this is the first elected position he has held. on getting priority good talent from alabama.
we were fortunate that this is the first time in 25 plus years that a democrat has held the seat. there is a lot of democratic talent in the city. on bringingpriority on people from alabama. understand -- they have an ability to understand the state and have some connection to the state. we find that to be important. we want to make sure our team understands the constituents we are serving. we place a high premium on folks from alabama with some connection to the state. you look for people with different levels of experience. most of our team are from alabama. they are extremely talented and that's what you need in this town. you need to have talented
experienced and professional staff to make an agenda. what would you add? mr. gresham: we -- mrs. daulby we have a lot of staff from illinois. she had worked for an assembly person from california so she knew what it was like from the district level. always looking for expertise. understanding constituents or the subject area. host: for this new congress you are talking about 93 house members and nine new senators. what is it going to be like? will that be different than other years, what is the impact of that number? >> it is similar to the 111th congress in 94 where we had a big class. this orientation and this class had more press coverage than in the past.
on makingn emphasis sure we had a lot of breakout sessions so those members could have a lot of one-on-one conversations. anytime you have a lot of turnover it puts a lot of stress on the house system itself. as i am walking to the office i see all the painters and movers and i.t. folks. i give them so much credit and their devotion to the institution. to have this house ready to go on january 2 is pretty impressive. >> how does the office election process work? >> a lot of folks talk a lot the lottery, it is covered on tv. it happens by preference, not by party. it is by how long you have been in congress. there is a clock that starts ticking a few weeks ahead of swearing-in day. you get to choose if you are incumbent and already there if you want to be in the lottery or not. if you're in the lottery you go down by class and pick a number. when your number is up there is
a website that constantly has what rooms are available. you will see staff running around and peeking in and out of offices trying to figure out what is available or what has not been picked. the freshman lottery gets the most attention and that is what you see and it goes by last name. members pick a number and they get what is left. it doesn't matter what party you are it matters how long you have been in congress and they pick from there. host: what are the offices like on the house side? mrs. daulby: nothing glamorous. beautiful historic buildings but real estate is at a premium. one of the things we talk about is that you are literally on top of folks and it is very cramped. you do the best you can. we have become very creative with our tape measure and figuring out what intern desk can fit in how many inches and where's the refrigerator and a coffee machine. people are always surprised by quarterst
there are. you have nine or 10 folks in those offices. host: and they are all together in one room? mrs. daulby: one big war room in the back. host: the senate side? mr. gresham: it is a bit different. there are three house offices building and three senate buildings. our offices tend to be larger than house offices, the personal offices tend to be larger. the office buildings are different. we are in the russell building which is the oldest of the three senate office buildings. of what youteristic would think of a senate office being. they have fireplaces, they tell me they work but i have not tried mine out. there are several suites. have our press
suite,n one s administrative staff in another and the senator has his own office. the chief of staff 's office is usually next to the senators. office typically has -- we use it as a second conference room. we have a full conference room but we also have a conference table in my office to accommodate other meetings. indo tend to have more space the russell in particular. it tends to be older and more ornate. the heart building is more modern and the staff tends to prefer it but the members tend to like the russell. host: your boss is going to be
the ranking member of the house administration committee, what role does that to midi in orientation and setting the rules and guidelines for capitol hill offices? theince they oversee members handbook which is the guiding document to help members navigate the house, house administration committee is often referred to as the mayor of capitol hill. make sense that that committee would help guide members and also helps them on board. the house of ministration committee has jurisdiction over house officers like sergeant of arms and those critical folks that make the housework. the committee through orientation really does help members get to know the do's and don'ts and get them ready to go to their office and the legislators on the birthday. host: -- first day. host: what training to members get on conduct on capitol hill andalso the chiefs of staff
the other staff in the office? part of the early orientation, once you are sworn in and begin your service you are required to do ethics training. there is formal ethics training that the senator and all staff have to complete and there is a certification process that you have completed your ethics training. there is sexual harassment training for example and nondiscrimination. trainings thatl the senator and the rest of the staff have to complete. the senate rules committee is comparable to the house andnistration committee they help in terms of administration of senate offices. rules -- t it here
-- there are committees and professionals in place in case you have questions. the ethics committee in case you what is andns about is not allowed. mrs. daulby: it is interesting. in congress there is no hr department. the 435 members that are there are running in some respects their own small business and they are very autonomous. they are responsible to constituents. we do have some training that is very similar in the house. we also have professional development that occurs in different conferences and house administration provides a lot of professional development as well. we give guidelines for how members personal offices handbook should look like so folks know what to expect.
it is a lot of professional development that is done between the different offices and the different communications directors. it looks very different to folks in the private sector. host: let's talk about all the folks squeezed into these offices. you have chief of staff, scheduler, legislative director, legislative correspondent, legislative assistant, communications director, office manager, correspondent manager, staff assistant, constituent services representative, the ever important interns that dominate on capitol hill. let's talk about a few of these. the scheduler. how important is the scheduler to a member of congress? mr. gresham: absolutely in -- essential. the senate brought a few people on from the campaign. we were looking to fill out an office, one of the first tires we made was the scheduler.
essential, the volume of request you get in d.c. and we have all the requests. the job of scheduler is difficult. important.dibly host: how would you describe the scheduler? mrs. daulby: a good scheduler can make or break any member. we have a printed out card every day to get us through a legislative day in the office and every 15 minutes the congressmen usually has a different meeting. a scheduler is someone who is very organized and flexible. in the house you don't have a scheduled time for your vote. the minute that bell rings you have 15 minutes to get down there and it really wrecks your day and you do the best you can to keep things running.
the scheduler is on point for doing that every day. host: legislative director? they supervise all the other legislative assistants and make recommendations to the members on how to vote and what groups like or dislike the bill in the background or the policy issues that are surrounding the issues of the day and how the member might want to think about voting. also whether the member should be a cosponsor of a bill, whether they should offer a bill , or sign onto a letter to leadership or a government agency. the legislative director is the person who is the lead on these issues. host: communications director, press secretary, what roles do they play? mr. gresham: another very important role for us. senate offices tend to have broad press operations rather than house -- we have a press assistant, press secretary, and typically have a press intern as
well. the director of communications overseas that entire process. they help to find the senator's message and work with media nationally and locally to convey that message from the senator. they also help craft the speeches. the director of communications is extremely important. also have aoffices digital assistant who manages social media. host: beyond washington law makers in january also have to set up offices in districts or states. in those offices we have a district director, scheduler and constituent services representative. what is happening in the district office and why is it needed? we have six
different offices for mr. davis's congressional district. we covered 14 counties. we try to put that offices geographically around the district so folks can easily drive to an office if they need assistance. arestaff in those offices helping members with any issues they have with government agencies such as veterans affairs, most of our casework is veterans related. they are stepping in for the congressmen when he or she is in and attending events and visiting constituents. those offices house the different staff. would you say about the importance of district offices for a senator who is covering the entire state? mr. gresham: they are extremely important. for most of our constituent the only interaction they will have with the senator office is through our local staff in the
state. interestingly enough, when we came on board we capped some of the state staff that previously worked for senator strange and sen. sessions: at caseworkers in particular. they are the institutional knowledge of the staff. issues thatand the are constituents face and how best to resolve those. through the federal process. extraordinarily important public service. , they are public servants. servinge a passion for their state. absolutely critical and essential for the working of the office. salaryere is the average of these staff positions. chief of staff 144,000, legislative director can make around 81,000, legislative
assistant close to 50,000, press secretary 71,000, scheduler 52,000, constituent service rep around 50,000, legislative correspondent near 40,000. is it hard to recruit and find good people for these positions? mrs. daulby: one of the things about capitol hill that is underestimated is that it is the best of the best. folks have the impression that everyone is from washington dc. these are the best and brightest kid throughout the country that want to come work for government and have a sense of service and believe in their government and this institution of democracy. i think it is a privilege to be a chief of staff. despite what we pay folks, nobody is getting rich working , we have amazing applicants who want to work for congressman davis. host: how to those salaries
compared to what the member of congress makes? mrs. daulby: the member of congress salary is set and has not been raised in quite some time. they have to live in washington dc and their district. host: their salary is what, 180,000? mrs. daulby: somewhere around there. it might be less than that. these kits on capitol hill, is it primarily young people on capitol hill? sideresham: on the senate the staff tends to be older in comparison to the house, more experience. we have larger staff and senators have to cover a broad range of issues. we have a staff that reflect those interests and issues that we have to cover. tends to be a bit older and a bit more experienced than the house staff. sure, they are young. i would agree, the best and
and they are committed to public service and are really andged in the policy realm our interest and debating ideas and issues. in comparisonlong to the private sector, the pay is lower. you do have to have a passion for what you do in order to do the job day in and day out. host: how long are the hours? describe a typical day or week on capitol hill. example is: the best when members come in their first about is at 6:30 at night. if you are handling that you're not leaving until 7:00. members vote very late at night. at least one day a week you will be there until 7:00. the day usually starts with some type of breakfast or early morning meeting at 8:00. it depends how long we have
votes for. host: what are some benefits of working on capitol hill? mrs. daulby: you are working for a greater good. you think about the different jobs folks have. rarely do you get to go do something that is bigger than yourself and it is not about you and you hope that you did something to make this country a better place or to help a constituent that day. drives ahat is what lot of staff, the meaning and purpose of what you are doing. mr. gresham: i agree. every day we have the ability to do something good for our home state. i am from alabama so that is what drives me. and anothercome in is an opportunity to do something good. staffs what drives our and whentimes are hard partisanship ratchets up with the intensity level gets high we are all comforted by the fact that every day these are unique
opportunities to serve. you have opportunities to do good work. host: what our resources like for each office. how much money do you get and how is it spent? mrs. daulby: you get a members representation allowance. that number is set based on how far you are from d.c.. littlenia members get a more because their plane tickets cost more and their travel budgets are larger. manyalso factor in how people are in each district because you are mailing your constituents. if you have a larger district. because of the senses we try to have them close to the same but your mra is based on how many constituents live in that district. host: can you give us an idea of how much a member might spend on sending mail to constituents? >> it depends on how much they want to spend. you get on mra and then you spend that money how you want. in our office we answered
roughly 70,000 letters last year. around proactively sent 200,000 pieces of mail to tell folks what is going on. onthere is real emphasis staying in touch with their constituents and answering that mail. explain how constituents reach out to their member of congress. these days most interaction and communication is through email. that is different from my previous life as a staffer on the house side. and of our interaction communications from our constituents come via email. they can also pick up the phone and call as well. especially when it comes to hot button issues that people feel passionate about. our state teams are in our communities every day and we are meeting with our constituents, , going tootary clubs
elementary schools and high schools and meeting with constituents. they will convey those issues to us as well. there are plenty of opportunities and methods for constituents to engage with us. host: question for both of you. what makes a successful chief of staff in a capitol hill member office? mrs. daulby: someone who is empathetic to the staff and the needs and understanding of what is important to the member, having a very good sense of what the constituents are like in their district and being from the home state of my member that has been much easier for me. i go back a lot. i go to meetings with the members and make sure i have the pulse of what folks in the district want. having a good relationship with the member, understanding the staff and being up-to-date on important issues. understanding your
constituency and representing their interests in d.c.. , good good judgment personality. these are intense jobs. working with a group of other folks in an intense environment. you want a team of folks who that helps onet another. what is important to us is building a team of talented people who can all go in one senator andt by the to serve our constituents back home. host: thank you for the conversation. mr. gresham: thank you. cities weekend, c-span's tour takes you to santa monica,
california with the help of our spectrum cable partners we monitor their literary life and history. saturday at noon eastern on book tv. a visit with a journalist and author as he describes the santa monica culture economy and more. santa monica is a progressive southern california city. it is a major tourist destination most well-known for being a place where people might via to enjoy the day and tourist. it is also a popular place for young tech startup companies. on american history tv, santa monica. historian jim harris, author of santa monica. : shares the history of this iconic landmark. >> we see him 9 million people a year.
that is all walks of life and all income levels and all interest thereon almost as many reasons to come to appear as there are people that visit. if you were to walk down up your on any given day and ask people why they are here you would get a different reason from each one of them. watch the c-span cities tour on c-span2 book tv and sunday at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3. working with cable affiliates as we explore the american story. over 100 new members of the house and senate join the 116th congress on january 3. c-span interviewed several freshmen members while they were in washington dc to attend orientation sessions. democrat harley rouda defeated dana rohrabacher.