WASHINGTON — As the U.S. Senate hustled to pass the defense authorization bill Thursday before Congress’ August recess, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s interns completed another challenge: securing photos with all 100 senators.
The cohort of eight high-school-age interns and two college-age coordinators — all from Alaska — was on a monthlong hunt to take a picture with every U.S. senator starting in early July. A separate group of Murkowski interns who worked in June kicked off the challenge, ultimately snapping pictures with 75 senators, but the July class decided to start from the beginning.
Their quest captured attention across Capitol Hill, from reporters, who were sometimes peeved that the interns snagged a photo before they could ask the senators a question, congressional staffers and lawmakers themselves.
By Thursday, the July interns had taken photos with nearly every senator — including Senate leaders Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and Republican Mitch McConnell, who both eluded Murkowski’s June intern class. The interns’ last day is Aug. 4, but Thursday was their last chance to take photos before senators left town for an extended recess.
“There was kind of this worry that we’d all be living in disappointment that final week,” said intern coordinator and University of Alaska Anchorage student Emma Mullet.
Between National Defense Authorization Act amendment votes, Murkowski found Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen. She escorted them off the Senate floor toward her interns, who beamed for a group photo as they closed in on a perfect score.
They had one senator left: former presidential candidate and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar.
The interns waited for about an hour to take a photo with her. They knew she was wearing a bright orange blazer, and prepared to jump into action as other senators wearing bright colors — like Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, who wore pink — walked by.
At last, Klobuchar appeared. She shook all of the interns’ hands, introduced herself and agreed to take a photo. Afterward, Mullet said, interns were “very, very proud” of their accomplishment.
It’s unclear whether Murkowski’s next group of summer interns will take up the challenge, but Mullet said she hopes they get to share the experience: “I think that would be fantastic.”