It's been an exciting couple of weeks at the Martin School! Staff, faculty, and doctoral students had the exciting opportunity to partner with the The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship to work with college students from all over the USA! Fifty students converged in Lexington for a week of programs focusing on the salient theme of compromise. With the legacy of the great Statesman, Henry Clay, in mind, the students tackled four policy topics: Transportation, National Debt/Deficit, Foreign Intervention, and Health Care. The four groups divided into eight subgroups to create policy proposals centered around differing ideology then the subgroups came together for an intensive compromise session in which they crafted and presented a final policy proposal that would both address the issue and satisfy both parties. One group was presented an award for Best Policy Project, two subgroups received awards for Best Policy Proposals, and four students--chosen by their peers--were awarded the Henry Clay Award for Excellence in Compromise for facilitating compromise within their respective groups. Beyond their policy projects, in which students were coached by four Martin School doctoral students, the students had the opportunity to hear from a variety of people involved in the policy process: The Council of State Governments and representatives from academia, the judicial system, the media, and lobbying groups. The group stopped by some signature Kentucky sites as well including the Ashland Henry Clay Estate, Three Chimneys Farm, the Campbell House, and Woodford Reserve Distillery.
After an enriching week in Lexington, 14 of the college students went on to Washington DC for another week of inspiring sessions. Highlights of the trip consisted of a visit with the Clerk of the Supreme Court; a tour of the House Floor in the U.S. Capitol Building; sessions with the Congressional Budget Office, organizations representing the States, the Government Accountability Office, and Lobbyists; and a visit to the Congressional Country Club. The big event of the week took place at the Willard Hotel where guests gathered for the Bourbon Barrel of Compromise featuring Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman Andy Barr, and former Senators Tom Daschle & Trent Lott as well as the Kentucky Distillers Association. On the final day of the week in DC, students had the opportunity to engage with the Bipartisan Policy Center, an organization that functions as both a think-tank and lobbying organization to push the theme of compromise forward in Washington DC through bipartisan conversation. All in all, this year's Henry Clay College Congress left participants with a sense that there is hope for compromise and continued dialogue on the most challenging issues of our time.