Staffer’s 30-Year Career Defined by Adaptability, Dedication

Samantar served five different House Education and Workforce chairmen, also clerked for Science Committee

Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:26pm

Capitol Hill is a transient place — many staffers get burned out from the long hours and often low pay in just a few years.

So when staffers stick around for multiple decades, they catch the eye — and capture the hearts — of the people around them.

That’s what Deborah Emerson Samantar did.

After 30 years on Capitol Hill, Samantar retired at the end of last month, leaving her most recent role on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, much to the chagrin of the committee’s chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas.

“Deborah’s ability to communicate, her attention to detail and dedication to the Science Committee and the House of Representatives will be missed,” Smith said. “I thank her for her contributions to this committee and to the country, and I wish her the best on her well-deserved retirement.”

Samantar, who was a legislative clerk on the committee, began her tenure working for members of Congress in 1983 in the district office of Rep. Joe Kolter, D-Pa. Two years later, she was transferred to Kolter’s office on Capitol Hill. She’s been going to work there every day since, serving in various House offices and committees.

Most of her Capitol Hill tenure was spent on the House Education and Workforce Committee, serving under five different chairmen during her 20 years there, including current Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

She moved to the Science Committee in 2007, clerking for three chairmen in her six years there: Smith; Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas; and former Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn.

Deciding to leave was a tough choice for Samantar, but she said she’s now looking forward to being able to spend time with her 88-year-old mother in Pennsylvania and hone her golf game.

She added that her first order of business in her retirement will be to dust off her passport: She’s heading to Paris in May.

“My time on Capitol Hill has been filled with wonderful memories and many friends,” Samantar said. “And though I will miss these halls, where great women and men have walked, I leave knowing that I was a part of something extraordinary. For that, I feel truly blessed.”