A Day In The Life: Kourtney Kardashian, Bill Markup, and Senate Bean Soup

Next week is my last as a Law Clerk in the U.S. Senate. I have enjoyed every minute I’ve spent working for the HELP Committee and would recommend this experience to any law student in search of an adventure.

Here’s what I was up to today:

 Paul Morigi/Getty This morning, none other than Kourtney Kardashian came to the Hill to advocate for cosmetics reform alongside Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook. The A-list celebrity teamed up with EWG for a congressional briefing, during which she discussed the importance of eliminating toxic chemicals from household products, including cosmetics. Their testimony highlighted legislative efforts, led by Sens. Feinstein (D-CA) and Collins (R-ME), to strengthen the FDA’s authority to regulate toxic chemicals found in all sorts of personal care products – from face wash and shampoos to eye makeup and anti-aging creams. Many everyday products contain harmful contaminants such as asbestos, mercury and lead.

During the morning briefing, Kourtney discussed how motherhood opened her eyes to the potential dangers posed by personal care products. (As a mom-to-be, I completely relate to this!) She spoke about how overwhelming a simple shopping expedition can feel: “Going into a store to buy just about anything—you shouldn’t have to walk around aimlessly asking, ‘Is this okay?’…Everybody should have the right to healthy products. I do feel like it’s time for Congress to do its job.”

HELP_Opioids exec session - daisBy 10 o’clock I was seated in a packed hearing room, waiting for the HELP Committee’s Executive Session to begin. The day’s business centered around marking up the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018—a comprehensive, bipartisan bill to address the devastating opioid epidemic. This multi-faceted legislation provides funding for states to respond to opioid abuse and deaths, creates treatment and recovery programs, and increases the CDC’s ability collect data in order to identify effective prevention methods.

HELP Ds_OpioidsAs is typical with bill markups, the Committee began by voting on a series of amendments to the bill. This was a fascinating exercise to observe. Some amendments were unanimously adopted while others were rejected along party lines (12 nayes to 11 ayes); still others revealed intraparty divisions. Ultimately, the bill was unanimously voted out of committee.

After one more meeting I headed to a lunch appointment at the Senate Buffet. Between the three Senate Office Buildings there are several dining options—all of which I have sampled several times over with the exception of the Senate Buffet. This was my lucky day! To be honest, I expected my internship to come and go without exploring this mysterious dining facility. Unlike the large, open cafeteria or any of the walk-in underground cafes, the Buffet is tucked behind an imposing wall and seemed reserved for people more important than me. Fortunately, my lunch meeting was with a veteran Senate staffer who made our reservation. (It is entirely possible that I could walk into the Buffet tomorrow and grab a table; I simply don’t know the protocol.) You can even follow the Senate Buffet on Twitter!

senate bean soup


Senate. Bean. Soup. As thrilling as it was to dine in the Senate Buffet, the real highlight of lunch was finally trying the Senate Bean Soup. You must understand: Senate Bean Soup is an institution around these parts. The stories, perhaps apocryphal, only add to its legend:

“According to one story, the Senate’s bean soup tradition began early in the 20th-century at the request of Senator Fred Dubois of Idaho.  Another story attributes the request to Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who expressed his fondness for the soup in 1903.” (U.S. Senate, Senate Bean Soup website)

How was it, you ask? DELICIOUS! I went into this culinary experience with the same enthusiasm I had upon finally reaching Wall Drug. (If you’ve ever driven across the country and seen Wall Drug advertised for over 600 miles, you know what I mean.) Eating the Senate Bean Soup has been a bucket list item for months now because, well, when in Rome…

To my great enjoyment, the soup was fantastic – hearty, simple, rich, and full of beans. I can’t wait to make it at home. And now you can, too!

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

2 pounds dried navy beans

Four quarts hot water

1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Serves 8.

After lunch I settled into a fascinating research project, then called it a day at 6 o’clock.

And so ended another great day in the U.S. Senate.

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