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Nolan details ‘dramatically, profoundly different’ Congress in Boston Globe profile

WASHINGTON — The Globe profiled Nolan and got his thoughts on congressional dysfunction five months into his new term.

WASHINGTON — Earlier this year, upon being sworn in to the House after 30 years away, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan took to the media to bemoan intense partisanship in Washington.

Five months later, the Boston Globe’s Matt Viser checks in with Nolan to see how he’s faring:

He sees a Congress that does not meet as often, where few members linger on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers jet in and out of the city’s airport on a dizzying weekly schedule. Representatives pass in hallways but do not know each other’s names. Raising campaign money requires more time than actual legislating — which, anyway, is mostly limited to naming bridges, approving post offices, and participating in the occasionally sharply divided votes on a bill that is doomed to fail in a partisan black hole. …

Nolan compares himself to an uncle who notices that his nephew has changed significantly in the years since the last visit, identifying things a parent might miss.

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The story says Nolan is just one of a group of new lawmakers looking to find friends and allies in a pretty harsh political environment (the article is part of a series looking at polarization in D.C.):

The sun is setting on Washington, and Nolan is heading away from the Capitol. He is going to We the Pizza, a restaurant a few blocks away, where a group of freshman congressmen are planning to meet. It is the third time that the group — Republicans and Democrats — gathered for a social occasion.

Nolan, and others, see hope in this new class of 84 lawmakers. Many of them view their mandate from voters as one to compromise, in a response to the negative, uncompromising ways of the past several years.

They concede they have little to show for it. They are newly elected members, and many are still learning the voting process on various issues, much less how to craft legislation.

The Globe pulled together a handful of old photos from Nolan’s first tenure in Congress and gave him prime front page treatment Tuesday morning. The full piece can be found here.

Devin Henry can be reached at