The Committee on House Administration should establish a district exchange program to allow Members to use the MRA for traveling to other Members’ districts.
As already noted, Members need more opportunities to forge professional and personal relationships. By visiting each other's districts, Members are more likely to find common issues to work on together. They also gain an appreciation for the issues that their colleagues from different districts confront. For example, a Member from an urban district might not appreciate the policy concerns of their colleagues from rural districts and vice versa. Immersing themselves in the issues of a different district—even if just for one or two days—is a valuable learning and relationship-building experience for Members.
Members of the Committee who engaged in these programs spoke to their effectiveness. Rep. Newhouse, reflecting on a district exchange with Chair Kilmer, said during the February 5, 2020 hearing:
“I went to [Rep. Kilmer’s] district; he came to mine. And something that stuck with me, he said something along the lines of, ‘It is really hard to know where someone is coming from if you don't know where they come from.’ And so, you know, it is as simple as that, but it is very true. And it is very helpful to walk a mile in another person's shoes in their district… we need to do more of those kinds of things. Build those relationships, and then it is harder to talk trash about somebody you actually care about, right?”
Rep. Dan Newhouse, February 5, 2020