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Unique Program Provides Glimpse 'Inside Congress' (Video)

MPC employees participate in API's Inside Congress program


Do you ever wonder what a member of Congress does all day? Thanks to a program facilitated by the American Petroleum Institute (API), MPC employees got the chance to find out.

First offered at Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s (MPC’s) headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, then most recently at MPC’s refinery in Garyville, La., and both refineries in Texas City, Texas, a unique program called “Inside Congress” offers MPC employees the opportunity to experience firsthand the competing pressures that elected officials experience every day. Teams of employees role-play up to eight fictional members of Congress, casting votes and prioritizing competing interests, all while keeping an eye on getting re-elected. Each round of play offers a different scenario and gets progressively more complex, with the fictional Congress member each group represents asked to make complicated choices and balance feedback, all under the critical eyes of news media, opinion polls, D.C. insiders and the people who elected them in the first place.

“This is a great way to learn about the inner workings of Congress,” comments Michelle McCaughey, senior Government Affairs representative at MPC. “It also demonstrates how advocacy influences our elected officials and therefore why it is so important for every MPC employee to be an effective advocate for our industry.” So far, a total of 160 employees at MPC and Speedway have participated in either the three-hour or 90-minute version of this API program, and McCaughey says the feedback has been positive.

“Inside Congress was an intense, high-paced experience,” comments Business Continuity Coordinator Phil Schneider. “Each decision you make sends you down a different path in the political process. Even when you feel like you made a great decision, your constituents can turn on you and your approval rating will plummet. This was one enjoyable event!”

“I now have a new appreciation for our congressmen and congresswomen, the legislative process, and ‘we the people’s’ role in that process,” adds Crude Oil Senior Analyst Dana Fought. “Often our perception is that our voice doesn’t make a difference, but now I see that legislators often have to make quick decisions with only the information they have in front of them. It is our responsibility to educate and inform them to make the best policy decisions. Since Inside Congress, I have been more politically active – staying informed, supporting political groups I agree with, calling my elected representatives on issues important to me, and most importantly, never missing an opportunity to vote.”

Advanced I.T. Systems Integrator Lowell Long said Inside Congress was an enlightening experience. “I may not always agree with each decision made, but I take comfort in knowing that the many outcomes are weighed and measured to arrive at the best possible solution for all involved,” he said.