Source: Roll Call | Niels Lesniewski | December 6, 2018

Retiring Foreign Relations chairman offers advice for new members

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has advice for incoming senators: become an expert, listen to colleagues and score quieter wins with an eye to the future. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker prepares to yield his gavel and leave the Senate, he has advice for newly elected senators: gain expertise and actually listen to your colleagues.

“Some of these people obviously are coming in with large platforms. I mean, they’ve been significant figures prior to coming here,” the Tennessee Republican, first elected in 2006, said in a recent interview. “Still though, they’re going to be freshman senators and they’re going to be sitting at the end of the dais in most cases in whatever the committee.”

That was certainly the case for Corker when he first gained recognition at the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee during the debates over the 2008 financial crisis. Within his first two years, Corker was already being included in meetings with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

“My advice to any new senator is to become an expert in a couple of topics where people know that you know more than anyone else in the Senate about those topics,” Corker said.

It’s a deceptively simple formula, but one that Corker recalls having to learn early in his first year, while still working out of the temporary office space allotted to freshmen.

New senators have such demands on their time that sometimes they need to take a step back in order to focus on a few issues in which they want to specialize.

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