Wednesday, September 13, 2023 | Ways & Means Committee Room, Longworth House Office Building
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society held an event on September 13, 2023 to celebrate and honor the 118th Congress. Current and former Members of Congress and staff, as well as members of the Society, enjoyed the program in the elegant setting of the Ways and Means Committee Room.
Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Marcy Kaptur, the longest-serving male and female Members of the 118th Congress, shared their insights on what they wished they knew when they started their congressional careers and how to create a legacy in Congress during the event.
Representative Robert Garcia, the Democratic Freshman Class President, and Representative Russell Fry, the Republican Freshman Class President, added depth to the conversation by asking insightful follow-up questions as they begin their own congressional careers. This collaborative and bipartisan event showcased how Members of Congress can work together, emphasizing a shared commitment to serving the American people that transcends party lines.
- 5:00 pm – The program began with some light refreshments and welcoming remarks from Jane L. Campbell, President/CEO, U.S. Capitol Historical Society
- Remarks from our keynote speakers, Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Marcy Kaptur
- Jane Campbell moderated an armchair conversation among the panelists:
- Senator Chuck Grassley
- Representative Marcy Kaptur
- Representative Robert Garcia
- Representative Russell Fry
- Jane Campbell gave closing remarks, inviting attendees to stay for the remainder of the reception.
Our Special Guests
Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie
In 1958, voters elected Senator Grassley to the Iowa state legislature, where he served until 1974 when Iowans chose him for the U.S. House of Representatives. By 1980, he had won a seat in the U.S. Senate, where he became known for his bipartisan and pragmatic approach. This method has often placed him among the Senate’s most effective and cooperative members. Senator Grassley’s main focus and objective have always been serving Iowans, no matter the position.
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur proudly represents the working people of Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District. She is currently the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress and ranks among the most senior Members of the 118th Congress.
She is a Polish-American with humble, working-class roots. Her family operated a small grocery store and her mother later served on the original organizing committee of a trade union at the Champion Spark Plug factory in Toledo.
After graduating from St. Ursula Academy, she became the first member of her family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin (1968) and later a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan.
After working for 15 years as a city and regional planner, primarily in Toledo and Chicago, she accepted an appointment as a domestic policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter. During his Administration, she helped maneuver 17 housing and neighborhood revitalization bills through Congress.
In 1981, while pursuing a doctorate in urban planning and development finance at MIT, she was recruited by the Lucas County Democratic Party to run for Congress against a first-term Republican. Although she was outspent by a 3-to-1 margin, Congresswoman Kaptur parlayed a strong economic message during the 1982 recession to stage a nationally recognized upset.
In Washington, Congresswoman Kaptur fought vigorously to win a seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Today she serves as the first woman to serve as Ranking Member of the influential House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which she considers an honor given the Ninth District stretches much of the southern Lake Erie coastline.
Congressman Robert Garcia is a career educator, who served two terms as the Mayor of Long Beach, California.
Congressman Garcia immigrated to the United States as a young child and was raised in Southern California, becoming a proud U.S. citizen in his 20’s. He holds an M.A. from the University of Southern California and an Ed.D. in Higher Education from Cal State Long Beach, where he also earned his B.A. in Communications.
Congressman Garcia believes in defending our democracy, leveling the playing field with progressive education policy, addressing the climate crisis, supporting working families with increasing wages, and fighting to expand and protect essential rights for women, immigrants, and the LGBTQI+ community.
Under his leadership as Mayor, Long Beach piloted programs like tuition-free community college and a universal basic income pilot. He also passed measures to support community safety and rebuild our infrastructure, legalized and taxed cannabis while promoting social equity, and promoted open, honest and transparent governance by strengthening the city auditor, setting term limits, and creating ethics and redistricting commissions. His signature ballot initiative, Measure A, launched the largest infrastructure repair program in a generation, promoting good-paying union jobs.
Congressman Garcia has also been a leader on access to quality, affordable health care and was co-chair of Mayors for Medicare for All. Under Congressman Garcia’s leadership, Long Beach was nationally recognized as a model city for its response to COVID-19 for containing the spread of the virus, providing a community-focused testing operation, and excelling at vaccine distribution. Garcia knows the pain the pandemic took on families, having lost his mother and stepfather to COVID.
Congressman Garcia was elected to represent California’s 42nd Congressional District, including Long Beach and Southeast Los Angeles, in November 2022.
He is married to Matthew Mendez Garcia, a professor of political science at California State University, Long Beach, and is proud to serve as the first openly LGBTQ foreign-born member of Congress. A self-admitted comic book nerd, Garcia credits comics with helping him learn to read and write English.
Congressman Russell Fry is proud to serve the Grand Strand and Pee Dee as their Representative for South Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District.
Russell is a true believer in the American Dream. Growing up he watched his parents work hard for every penny they earned, and since then Russell has been doing the same. He put himself through his undergraduate education at the University of South Carolina and law school at the Charleston School of Law, where he served as president of the Student Bar Association, helped the school achieve its American Bar Association accreditation, and also received the prestigious Civility Award. After this, he practiced law along the Grand Strand for over a decade.
As an Eagle Scout, Russell shares the sentiment that “you should leave your campsite better than you found it.” Every day he strives towards a goal that “we should leave our country better than we found it.” Growing up, he saw first-hand how government’s actions directly affect families living paycheck to paycheck, and he is committed to fighting for those who don’t always have a voice.
Russell is a public servant and active member of his community. Prior to this role, he represented State House District 106 (Horry County) in South Carolina’s General Assembly for seven years. He served as Chief Majority Whip, where he fought for lower taxes, less government, pro-Second Amendment legislation, and pro-life legislation. Russell also chaired the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee, which resulted in 18 policy initiatives being signed into law and record funding for opioid prevention, education, and treatment.
Russell is a loving husband to his wife, Bronwen, and dedicated father to their son, James. The family lives in Murrells Inlet with their chocolate lab, Jasper.
Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie
About the United States Capitol Historical Society:
For more than 60 years, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society has proudly worked to preserve and share the history of the Capitol, the Congress, and the people who work therein. As a nonpartisan, educational 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Society was chartered by Congress in 1978, in part, “to foster and increase an informed patriotism.” In service of this mission, the Society conducts historical tours of the Capitol Building, hosts both virtual and in-person public history programming, publishes scholarly research in various aspects of Capitol History, coordinates an open-access civics education digital resource hub, manages a renowned civics education field trip program for D.C. public school students, and commissions works of fine art for the Capitol collections.