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Members of Congress have plenty of people giving them advice, both solicited and not. Senior staffers, constituents, pollsters and pundits all have ideas about what elected officials should do.

But the source of counsel that lawmakers are most likely to follow: their mothers. In honor of Mother’s Day (which mom-loving Congress established back in 1914), we asked Members what was the best advice they have ever gotten from their moms. 

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)

“She told me that when people don’t have enough backbone, sometimes you’ve got to put a broomstick up their back to give them some backbone. I remember we were taking a tough vote, and I brought a dowel rod with me to a meeting — I didn’t have an actual broomstick — and I told that story and said, ‘Mr. Leader, I can get as many of these as you need.’ It’s become a joke among my colleagues.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.)

“If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything. Live long, and you’ll outlast all your enemies, and that’s the greatest revenge.”

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.)

“She taught me everything about dealing with people, and her best advice was that you can always get a lot more out of folks if you give them a smile. It’s been perfect advice for what we do around here.”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

“Always reach for your dreams.” Asked whether he is following her advice, Polis joked, “Either my dreams or my nightmares — I’m always trying to figure out which one Congress is.”

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.)

“I visited the White House back in 1974, when [Jimmy] Carter was president. My mom said before I left, ‘Don’t take anything.’ And I didn’t.”

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.)

“My mom was the den mother for our Cub Scouts, and we had meetings in our basement. Her best advice was to get involved and make a difference, and she pushed us to do that. It’s served as a good mantra in this job.”

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