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Washington • Rep.-elect Mia Love came to Washington last week for her introduction to her new gig. There are classes on all kinds of things that new members have to learn before they get sworn in and start to legislate. But there are plenty of things they don't tell them, too.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz suggests being very wary of eating the hamburgers out of the vending machine in the Longworth Building.
"Don't go there," he says. "Trust me."
In an attempt to offer a helpful welcome to Utah's newest congresswoman, I asked her soon-to-be fellow House members for advice. Love will figure out how to hire a staff, make her first floor speech and that the red button is a no vote and the green one a yes. (The yellow button is for when you don't know, Bishop often jokes.)
But how about that sage advice that they wished they had known when they first came?
Rep. Chris Stewart, who is still a freshman himself, struck a serious tone when asked. He says he was blown away when he first came to Washington by how accomplished and smart his fellow members were.
"My advice would be to take the first few months to learn as much as you can from them," Stewart says.
But then he added a lighter note. "There are two distances Mia must remember it's 0.31 miles to the House Floor, and 9.1 miles to the nearest Café Rio."
Chaffetz recalls the counsel Speaker John Boehner gave him upon landing in Washington in 2009: You can disagree, but don't be disagreeable. The Utah congressman also suggests hiring smart people who care "and can write."
And in a nod to the fact that everyone has an ego in Washington, Chaffetz suggests, "Just do what I do."
Short of that, Chaffetz also had some fun ideas for what a new member of Congress should be aware of:
• When you're on the House floor, engaged in conversation, don't forget to vote. It happens;
• Bishop is "that way" with everyone;
• Don't leg wrestle Stephen Colbert. He is freakishly strong;
• Remember, when referring to Utah's senior senator, it's "Chairman Hatch;"
• Given there are probably some interns still lost there, don't even try to figure out the Rayburn Building.
And Chaffetz, known for his media savvy, adds that one should just assume reporters "have Ebola and you will be fine."
On that note, as someone who has covered Washington longer than half the Utah delegation has been in office (though Hatch has us all beat), I'd offer a couple thoughts: The news media isn't your enemy. Journalists exist to inform the public – whether it's something you're proud of or something you'd rather nobody knew about. They're not against you, or for you.
Just remember, if you worry that a reporter may find out about something you're doing, you may want to think twice about doing it.
Morning email » Snack on Political Cornflakes, The Salt Lake Tribune's morning dish of political news. Join our mailing list by emailing email@example.com or follow us on Twitter, @SLTribPolitics. Check back at politicalcornflakes.com for regular updates. Burr has reported for The Salt Lake Tribune for nearly a decade from Washington, D.C. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @thomaswburr.