Peter King and his Legislative Services team are the engine behind the Pro's Legislative Compass tool – writing updates and analyses, uploading draft bills for subscribers, and continuously keeping a finger on the pulse of Congress and the legislative process.
We interviewed Peter to learn more about his career and the work he does at POLITICO Pro.
Q: Peter, can you give us a little bit of background on your experience and career trajectory – what got you to legislative tracking at POLITICO Pro?
Peter King: I went to undergrad at American University, and then spent 19 years at Congressional Quarterly. I went from a CQ intern, to a fact-checking gig, then processing data and reports, and then a variety of positions that were designed for me, allowing me to build a beautiful career in Washington.
I had taken a few years off to be home with my then young children when POLITICO reached out. The timing was perfect and I knew immediately it was a good fit. I got thrown right into multiple meetings a day with our product, tech, and editorial teams at POLITICO Pro. We came up with the Legislative Compass, which we launched in July 2017.
Q: How did your Legislative Compass reporting team come together?
PK: The editorial team is a great mix of internal POLITICO people, as well as people who have done legislative tracking at other places. When it was time to hire a team to support the Legislative Compass, I knew we wanted that mix, so that we had folks who are familiar with our internal processes, and others who brought a different perspective.
Q: What’s your favorite part of a legislative tracking role?
PK: I always think about this kind of role broken into three buckets – the congressional nerd, the policy wonk, and the political junkie. On a legislative tracking team, you want a combination of all three, and throughout the course of my career, I have sort of moved between those three categories. If you’re really going to report well on Congress, you need to know the process in and out, the impact on real people in and outside the beltway, as well as the current political climate. The sausage making is not for everyone, but for whatever reason I find it fascinating, and I look for other people that find it fascinating.
Q: Can you tell me more about the reporting that’s going on in the background? How do you and the team dissect legislation for Pro subscribers?
PK: Bill text is, of course, the most important thing – I will tell everyone who will listen, you have to read every word of the bill before you can write up any sort of analysis. Then reporters will mark down things that aren’t clear – a lot of bill text might be changing the U.S. code, so you always go and look that up – bottom line, never assume that you know what a bill is doing. As far as understanding the significance – that’s when we look for information directly from the sponsor or the committee, so that our Pro subscribers don’t have to.
Q: What’s the most memorable story you’ve covered?
PK: I was actually the Senate floor reporter during the Clinton impeachment, but the House floor reporter happened to be on vacation at the time, so I had to cover both. I remember interviewing members about what they would do if they were the majority leader, what would they have the Senate do next, just trying to anticipate what was going to happen. They were all so tired of talking about impeachment – eventually, I could only get people to stop and take my questions if I yelled out first, “Senator, it’s not about impeachment!”