At Ford, I used to contact frequently people in Ford’s Office in Washington DC. As we were heading toward DC, I asked people I knew there if they could assist us in getting approved for tours of the Capitol and the White House. Even with their contacts, we were scheduled at the very end of our two-week stay. But good things come to those who wait. Both tours were personally guided ones for Gary and I. For the US Capitol, our tour was led by an intern (no, not Monica) from Representative John Dingell’s office. The intern is a recent college grad in Political Science who is hoping to catch on in some sort of policy position in DC. We met him at Representative Dingell’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building (picture). We first toured the Rotunda and then went to the House side of the Capitol. He had gallery passes and we were incredibly lucky that at the very time we entered the gallery, the House was ending debate before a vote that brought all of the members of the House to the chamber.
We were able to pick out the following members of the House: Eric Cantor, Hansen Clarke (who was our Congressman when we lived in Michigan), John Conyers, John Dingell, Steny Hoyer, John Lewis, Candice Miller, Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence, Charles Rangel, Paul Ryan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman and Allen West (who was in the Speaker’s chair).
On the Senate side, we also sat in the Gallery for a bit, but there were only two senators on the floor, one apparently making a speech for the benefit of the constituents back home and another one in the presiding chair working on something else beyond the speech going on.
For the White House tour, we were met in the lobby of a hotel by a member of the General Services Administration (GSA). We resisted the temptation to mention exorbitant taxpayer-funded junkets to Las Vegas. You only get to see a small section of the White House and can’t take any pictures inside, but it is an impressive tour just the same. As we walked around the fence to the back side, we were able to see Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden. We had to wonder how many government workers it takes to maintain it.