March 26, 2018

Week 3

By Sonja Perry

On Tuesday, myself and thousands of others across Washington, D.C. anxiously awaited snow fall. As I trekked around D.C. in the rain that became sleet and finally snow, I was amazed by the beauty of the city with a dusting of white. Like most snow days in veterinary school, there was still work to be done. This was because we weren’t just waiting for the arrival of snow, but also for the arrival of Omnibus.

Omnibus, overly simplified, was the appropriations package that tells federal agencies which programs had been funded by Congress. If this bill was not passed by the House and Senate and signed into the law, another government shutdown would have occurred. As a GRD-Extern, waiting for Omnibus was a thrilling experience. Due to the current political climate, funding for both Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and 2019 were being debated up until the passage of Omnibus. Therefore, the text of Omnibus would provide information with what funding was being given for FY2018, as well as information that would allow the AVMA to direct our efforts for next year. Finally it was released. Immediately, Alex (my mentor) began combing through the 2,200 page document and finding concepts that would affect veterinarians.

Combing through Omnibus has been a turning point in my externship. I have always felt that it is one thing to enjoy current events in the news and another thing to enjoy reading heavy text of legislation. As I sat down to go line by line through the text, I felt patriotism, excitement, and passion. Feelings I was surprised to feel while reading what in reality was a dull text. I soon recognized this was an accumulation of my love of veterinary medicine and policy coming together in one. However, there wasn’t much time to feel nostalgic and the fact of the matter was speed reading and comprehension were of the upmost importance.

As I have progressed through this externship I have realized that my feelings of patriotism, excitement, and passion are feelings held by many in D.C. I have seen it on the faces of eighth graders walking to participate in a rally about school violence. I have seen it on the face of a mother of two young children as she pushed a stroller through the halls of Senate Office buildings as she marched to a meeting with a Senator. I have seen it on the face of Congressmen Yoho and Schrader as they spoke about their roles as veterinarians in Congress. As we follow current events, it is easy to become jaded about politics and the happenings in D.C. However, as a person who myself has made jokes about the inefficiencies of Congress and as an extern the past three weeks, I can assure you there are people here who care. People who work hard trying to improve on a current system. People who understand how complicated some issues are and people who believe that together we can make our world better.