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Life After Congress? For Former Rep. It's Just the Beginning


Former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly served Connecticut's first district for 17 years, but in 1999 found herself out of politics for the first time since 1982.

"I adored Congress," Kennelly told CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante on Monday's Washington Unplugged. "I felt like I was really doing something, and when I left I missed it terribly."

That's when she discovered the Association for Former Members of Congress, which held an event on Capitol Hill Monday providing resources and advice for this year's departing members. The group was founded in 1970 to help promote public understanding of the U.S. Congress and representative democracy.

Kennelly opted not to join the Association when she first left office. "I have to tell you I didn't join the Association for Former Members immediately," she admitted. "But when I did, I kind of felt like I found a home because we all had shared the experience and it really keeps you active in the Congressional world."

Plante asked if she had advice for members who will be leaving office at the end of the year, and Kennelly responded, "I thought I would go back to Connecticut, and if my husband was alive, I would have. But the only place you can sell your wares, your federal wares, is here in Washington. This association is so marvelous for that."

She says the most beneficial reason for a former member of Congress to join is that you still have a pulse on the goings on in Washington. "The main thing is you know you still have a little piece of affecting people's appreciation of democracy," she said.

Plante asked Kennelly: What if a former member (maybe one who's lost an election) needs a new job? "You have to do that on your own," Kennelly joked.

Watch Monday's Washington Unplugged above also featuring Politico's Senior Editor David Mark on whether the White House and Congressional Republicans will reach a deal that will extend tax cuts for all Americans, including the wealthy and highlights from Sunday's Kennedy Center Honors. Honorees included Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey and Merle Haggard.

Lauren Seifert
Lauren Seifert is an associate producer for You can read more of her posts here. For more Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.