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With Inauguration Day just five weeks away, approximately 50 incoming freshman members of the 113th Congress have come to Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) this week to help prepare themselves for the myriad policy challenges they’ll be facing in Washington.
The Institute of Politics’ (IOP) 20th Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress will conclude on Friday (Dec. 14), following two and a half days of intense discussions and primers on issues ranging from federal budgeting and appropriations, to the economy and U.S. foreign policy.
Photo Credit: Martha Stewart
Several HKS faculty members participated in the conference sessions including Dean David T. Ellwood, Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy; Carmen Reinhart, Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System; Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor; Sarah Sewall, lecturer in public policy; and Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University, and director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.
Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA), the grandnephew of the former president and HLS graduate, was one of those in attendance. “It’s one of the great opportunities that you have from having moments like this orientation where you get to learn from national experts about the fiscal realities – long-term, short-term – what can be done to get our economy moving again and on a bi-partisan basis,” he said.
At least four of the new members attended HKS, either as Degree Program or Executive Education students, including Dan Maffei MPP 1995 (D-NY), Raul Ruiz MPP 2001 (D-CA) and Kyrsten Sinema HKSEE S&L 2008, HKSEE WP 2010 (D-AZ), who won a very close race in Arizona’s 9th district.
“You know, what’s really interesting about this week and what makes it quite different from the other training we’ve had thus far is it’s very much focused on the pressing issues that our country is facing and most of the training you get in preparation for Congress is really either political or logistical,” Sinema said.
The conference allowed incoming lawmakers an early opportunity to reach across the aisle to begin establishing relationships with colleagues in the other political party, something Robert Pittenger HKSEE S&L 2004 (R-NC) believes will help build a more bipartisan spirit moving forward.
“I’m always encouraged,” said Pittinger. “I think people at the end of the day are going to do the right thing. I think what we need in front of us is good facts, good information, good data.”
The Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress was founded in 1972, and continues to play a critically important role in helping prepare incoming freshmen and women for the many challenges that lie ahead.