Members of Congress have busy schedules. They fly, or drive, back-and- forth between Washington, D.C. and their home districts almost every week. When they are in D.C., their days are packed with committee meetings, House votes, constituent meetings, media interviews, and staff meetings. They also have to find time to read and study the policies to write and vote on legislation.
The HUMAN EVENTS series “Life on the Hill” gives our readers some insight into the daily life of a Member of Congress. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is featured this week. She was elected to Congress in 2006, and was a tax litigation attorney before getting into politics. Bachmann, 54, is married and has five children.
I interviewed her while she was walking from her office to a meeting of the House Republican Conference.
What time do you get up in the morning and when do you go to bed at night?
I’m usually up by six, and it’s usually 11 when I go to bed. It depends though. Last night it was 12:30. It’s not possible to read everything that we need to read. And I love reading. And so that’s what will push me into late hours. I got into a bad habit where I would stay up until one or two in the morning reading, trying to have everything done. But I can’t burn the candle at both ends. And so I try to make it a priority to get at least 7 hours because the day expects so much of an individual, so I have to at least try and get my sleep.
How do you pack to travel back and forth to D.C. so often?
I only bring a small carry-on for travel. I have a lean, mean wardrobe. I try to own as few things as possible, in order to keep track of everything, because I’m moving and in different locations all the time, so I keep my life very simple.
What route do you take to the Capitol for votes from your office in the Cannon House Office Building?
I’m usually running when I go to vote. I either cross the street to the Capitol or through the underground tunnel. It depends on the time of year and the weather. I like being in Cannon because it’s very close to the Capitol.
With all the running back and forth, plus the marble floors, what do you do about your shoes?
Well, that’s a killer here. A lot of members have hip problems and knee problems because you literally walk miles every day. I love walking, so I’m so thankful we walk as much as we do, but you can’t wear the beautiful, spiky, thin-soled, leather-soled shoes. So, I have to buy old lady shoes, and I am an old lady, so it’s appropriate [laughter]. I always wear thick, rubber-soled shoes, which aren’t as attractive, but I have to sacrifice a little bit of glamour in order to be able to survive around here!
Do you have an exercise routine when you are in D.C.?
I get a lot of exercise from the miles of walking every day. I also go to the women’s gym. I like the elliptical, and then some weights, and some machines
When you are on the elliptical, do you listen to music or watch TV?
I do a little bit of both. Sometimes I’ll listen to books. Sometimes I’ll watch TV if there’s a news show on. Or, I’ll listen to some music.
Do you use a Blackberry, iPhone or other mobile device?
Yes, I use an iPhone.
How do you remember to put you Member of Congress pin on your lapel every morning? Have you ever forgotten it?
I’m a creature of habit. I need to have it in the same place, and then I’ll remember it. So, I usually lay it on my dresser, next to me every night. I’ve forgotten occasionally when I’ve left it pinned on one jacket, and then I’ll put another one on in the morning.
What do you do for lunch?
I get the grilled chicken Caesar salad from the Cannon take-out. I usually eat it at my desk while I’m reading, or doing an interview, or talking to staff. But a lot of times I don’t have time to eat lunch. That happens a lot. I think people may have the impression that we sit down for a lot of lunches and dinners, but I don’t find that to be true. When my feet hit the floor in them morning, I start working. And I work until I go to bed at night.