BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Sandeep Prasanna, subcommittee director for intelligence and counterterrorism on the House Homeland Security Committee

How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I had a fun, low-key weekend — Saturday was spent jumping around outdoor distilleries and breweries in Northeast D.C., and ended with takeout from one of our favorite spots, Maketto. Today is the first day of session after August recess, so I’ll be teleworking at home with my partner, Ryan, and our cats, Idli and Chutney, squeezing in a few video calls with family and friends throughout the day. Tonight, I’m actually teaching my first evening class of the semester at Georgetown Law, so it’ll be a late night in the office, aka our dining table.”

How did you get your start in politics? “Like many fledgling lawyers looking for work on Capitol Hill, I was stuck in job hunt purgatory for a long time — graduate degree but no Hill experience, underqualified for counsel positions but passed over for entry-level positions. I got my start in the Senate when Sen. [Richard] Blumenthal and his staff took a chance on me, offering me a spot on his Judiciary team as a legislative correspondent. It wasn’t easy balancing law school debt on a junior staffer salary, but I took the opportunity and ran with it. It felt fulfilling to work on a portfolio I cared deeply about, learning from some of the best in the business.”

What’s an interesting book/article you’re reading during coronavirus social distancing? And why? “I recently finished ‘Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity,’ written by Duke scientists Brian Hare (my thesis adviser!) and Vanessa Woods. They walk us through the research that shows that humans may often be cruel to one another, but we’re also uniquely cooperative — and that’s what has made us successful as a species. Survival of the friendliest. It’s a science-based call to action for us to reimagine and expand who ‘belongs’ in our communities in order to harness the better angels that are built into our very DNA. I’m a little biased, but we need this book now more than ever.”

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