What Members of Congress Have to Say About Their Fellowships
I know that many of my colleagues have repeatedly sought fellows for their personal offices because of the quality of the contributions they have made. The issues confronting Congress increasingly involve scientific and technical aspects. Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers serving as congressional fellows bolster the technical expertise available to Members and staff by bringing to bear their extensive knowledge and fresh insights and perspectives. The presence of congressional fellows enhances the public policy formulation process. In addition, the program provides fellows with a window of the policy formulation process and the workings of Congress that they take back to their home institutions. It also provides a mechanism that many fellows have used to transition to careers in public service.
Members of Congress, let me just say, are generally not loath to talk about subjects in which they are not well trained, except in science. My colleagues and I will hold forth on economics or international relations or any number of other things; but when it comes to science, they say, whoa, that is not for me. I am not a scientist. And as a result, many of the aspects of the policy questions before us that involve science and technology do not get the attention they should. That is why the congressional fellows program is so important. It is in many offices the only scientific expertise that is provided. This technical expertise is very valuable to Congress; and it allows not only these Fellows to bring scientific expertise here; it allow them to carry political expertise back to their professions.
I have welcomed over twenty AAAS Fellows into my office since 1979 and have been consistently impressed by their contributions to policymaking and advising. They have made a significant positive impact on the quality of life for the people of Massachusetts, the United States, and the World by instilling a measure of science and humanity into the decisions we are asked to make in these chambers every day.
Six different fellows have served on my staff and each one has used their unique talents and understanding to help shape my legislative agenda. One in particular contributed greatly to this Nation at the time I was rewriting the Nation’s science policy at the request of Speaker Gingrich and Chairman Sensenbrenner.
We recognize the value of the (Fellowship) program daily on the Science Committee, where ten of our staff members began their careers on the Hill as Fellows.