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Congressional Science Fellow Working on Making Communities More Livable

by Rachel Sours-Page, GSA Congressional Science Fellow
Reprinted from GSA Today, v. 11, no. 2 (February 2001)

Hello all!

I have accepted a position in the office of Representative Earl Blumenauer (D–Oregon, 3rd district–Portland) for the upcoming year. I will be working as a legislative assistant on issues related to water and energy. Specifically, I will be working on reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and to the Army Corps of Engineers. Issues such as beach preservation, wetlands restoration, disaster mitigation, and flood control are at the forefront of these agencies' agendas. In the past, Congressman Blumenauer has introduced legislation such as "Two Floods and You're Out of the Taxpayers' Pockets." This requires a homeowner who has filed two or more claims with the National Flood Insurance Program to either (a) allow their house to be moved to a less flood prone area, or (b) pay the full market rate for flood insurance, instead of continuing with subsidized insurance through the federal government.

I work closely and share an office with many of Representative Blumenauer's other legislative assistants in the Longworth House Office Building. A House office is typically quite small, both in physical space and number of employees. Our office employs approximately 12 staff members to work on legislative issues, media communications, scheduling and Web site design-all within a two-room office. We work closely with one another and with staff members at the home office in Portland, Oregon, and daily with the representative to keep him updated and well informed of congressional business and upcoming legislation.

I am very pleased to be working in Representative Blumenauer's office ( I feel a strong affiliation with Oregon, having lived there the past five years. The central focus of this office is to work on bipartisan issues related to making communities both within and outside Oregon more livable. These include encouraging smart growth in our urban and suburban population centers; allowing for federal transportation dollars to be spent on public transit options and bicycle paths, as well as highways; and ensuring that our federal dollars do not favor environmentally unfriendly practices. I am enjoying my time here on the Hill and appreciate the opportunity afforded me by the GSA and the USGS.

If you would like to learn more about my experiences on the Hill and those of former GSA Congressional Science Fellows, please look for our articles in GSA Today. You will also find links on the GSA Web site to more general science and public policy issues. In addition, feel free to contact me at any time with your questions!

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This manuscript is submitted for publication by Rachel Sours-Page, 2000-2001 GSA-USGS Congressional Science Fellow, with the understanding that the U.S. government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for governmental use. The one-year fellowship is supported by GSA and by the USGS, Department of the Interior, under Assistance Award No. 1434-HQ-97-GR-03188. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the author and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. government. Rachel Sours-Page can be reached at, (202) 225-4792, 1406 Longworth House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20515.