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Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. // Public Domain

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) canceled his scheduled talk at the Perry World House on Jan. 23, as a result of the federal government shutdown over the weekend.

Schiff, the top Democrat on the United States House Intelligence Committee, was required to be in Washington, D.C. for votes related to the government shutdown. The shutdown began on Jan. 20 and ended on Jan. 22 after a bill was signed into law that approved funding through Feb. 8, on condition that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is re-addressed.

The California congressman was set to deliver an address entitled “Threats to Democracy at Home and Abroad,” with a focus on the ongoing Russia investigation. Schiff has become a “chief White House antagonist,” according to Politico, due to his role as Democrats’ top Russia investigator. 

He even drew the personal ire of President Donald Trump, who called the congressman “sleazy” and "totally biased” in a July 2017 tweet.

“For many high-level policymakers, their schedule isn’t always their own,” said John Gans, a program manager at the Perry World House. “This is an opportunity to learn a little more about what it’s like to work in government and be subject to these exchanges.”

This was the second time the event was postponed. Schiff was originally supposed to speak at Penn on Dec. 5, but had to reschedule the event due to "a change in the Congressional schedule for the day," Ashley Napier, the assistant to the director of the Perry World House, wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian in December 2017.

Jan. 22 had originally been chosen as the make-up date because Congress was scheduled to be in recess, but the events of the past weekend threw the planned break into chaos, Gans said.

President of Penn Democrats and Wharton sophomore Dylan Milligan said he was “disappointed” that he would miss the chance to meet the congressman during a planned meet-and-greet before the event. The meet-and-greet with Schiff had been scheduled with 13 Penn Dems members from California, and although he was regretful the event didn’t work out, Milligan held out hope. 

“He’ll come eventually,” Milligan said.

Gans reaffirmed these hopes, as he said that staff at the Perry World House were already in contact with the congressman’s office and were searching for new dates for the event. 

This turmoil was witnessed firsthand by Gans and about two dozen undergraduate fellows from the Perry World House who traveled to Washington, D.C. on Friday and met congressional staffers and visited the Pentagon and a think tank.

“The shutdown provided the students with a really interesting moment in Washington, both an educational one and fascinating one, to see how Congress, the press, and military officials were planning to react to the shutdown,” Gans said. “It was not your typical day down there.” 

The shutdown began on late Friday night, when the Senate failed to agree on a stopgap spending measure. Senate Democrats had largely voted against the bill, as the measure did not contain protections for young undocumented immigrants or increased disaster aid for Puerto Rico. 

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