Meet the Lawmaker: Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)

What are the best and worst things about Washington?
Rep. Lummis: The worst is the weather. I’m from Wyoming, so I’m not used to the humidity and the heat. The best is my fellow members.

What is the last book you read?
Rep. Lummis: The last book was called The World is Curved [by David Smick].

What did you want to be when you were a child?
Rep. Lummis: A train engineer. I grew up near the railroad tracks and I would see the trains go by and I’d think, “They’re going to great places.”

Which lawmaker, besides yourself, would you want to be?
Rep. Lummis: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), because he is the ranking member on the Budget Committee. I love the Budget Committee, and he’s also on [the] Ways and Means [Committee], and those are the two areas where I have a tremendous amount of interest. Also, he’s a very wonky guy and I like wonky people.

What’s been your most embarrassing political moment to date?
Rep. Lummis: There are so many to choose from. But I would say the night that I had to spend in the Lindy Boggs Women’s Reading Room. After President Obama’s message to Congress, I had walked off the floor to do interviews and left my purse on the floor of the House, and my purse got locked up for safekeeping. But my credit cards, my money, my apartment keys and everything were in my purse. When I went back to get it, it was locked up, so I spent the night in the Lindy Boggs Women’s Reading Room, which is the women’s bathroom for House members, because I didn’t have any way to get home and it was the middle of the night.

Who is your favorite cross-party member?
Rep. Lummis: I like Ann Kirkpatrick from Arizona. She’s nice to everybody on both sides of the aisle. She’s from Arizona, so she’s a fellow Western gal. I met her for the first time at the Harvard [University] freshman orientation meeting, and she was talking a lot about Native American issues, and I have a lot of Native American friends in my district. She was someone that I thought I would like, and as it ends up, I have.
Which household chores do you like, and which don’t you like?
Rep. Lummis: I don’t mind doing the laundry, the dishes and cleaning the bathrooms. I’m not a terribly good cook — in fact I’m not a very good cook at all, to be honest.

What is the one thing you didn’t realize about Congress until you got here?
Rep. Lummis: How partisan it really is. I was hopeful that there were more opportunities for the minority to have meaningful input, but as it turns out, in the House, the minority has very little meaningful input. I’m also disappointed that the majority party feels that it is its job to simply carry the president’s agenda rather than weigh in on its ideas. In Wyoming, regardless of which party the governor is in, the Legislature is very proactive about crafting legislation and not relying on the chief executive to shape policy. And here, whoever is in the majority, whether it was President Bush with the Republican Congress or President Obama with the Democrat Congress, it appears that the role of the majority party in the House is to be the robotic supporter of the president, and I just don’t feel that’s appropriate.

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