Science and policy on Capitol Hill



I spent my year as the 1982–1983 AGU Congressional Science Fellow as legislative assistant to Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), covering environment and energy issues. I offer this final report of my year not only for potential Congressional Science Fellows but for all readers of Eos who may want to contribute to science policy making (but are afraid to try).

My primary goal was to get a broad exposure to issues, organizations, people, and the legislative process; this I achieved beyond my expectation. Congress, remarkably, is set up like a vast marketplace: There are vendors (the lobbyists and interest groups) and consumers (the constituents), and each group makes its desires known to the members of Congress, who act as brokers. Issues are strewn about like so many fish—some stale and rancid; others fresh and meaty, the catch of the day. And there is no real respite: Problems requiring a response (if not a solution) will seek out even the most diffident Member or staffer.