Administrative staff, Child care, Environment and Public Works Committee, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Finance Committee, Humor, Maine congressional delegation, Tax, Transportation
Grace Reef grew up in Portland, Maine, with her father, Norman Reef, an attorney, and her mother, Patricia Reef. In 1974, as a twelve-year-old, she was the first female Little League baseball player, having sued to integrate girls into the program. She first heard of Senator Mitchell when he ran for governor in 1974. She attended Colby College, graduating in 1983 with a degree in public policy. During college she interned in Mitchell’s Senate office in Washington, D.C.; she worked as a legislative correspondent and was later promoted to be a legislative assistant, eventually becoming one of Mitchell’s senior advisors on children and poverty issues and economic development. She worked for minority leader Tom Daschle after Mitchell retired in 1994, continuing to work on issues of welfare reform and child care. She also worked for Senator Chris Dodd as the minority staff director of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families. She has served as director of intergovernmental affairs for the Children’s Defense Fund. At the time of this interview, she was chief of policy and evaluation for the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
Interview includes discussion of: interning in Mitchell’s Senate office; the legislative process; tax reform in the mid-1980s; Mitchell’s decision-making process; the Family Support Act; doing research on child care providers in Maine; child care and development block grants; the Better Child Care Act; the structure of the Senate and the work Mitchell had to do to get legislation passed; Title 4A At Risk Child Care; the compromise on child care vouchers (church-state); Mitchell’s “divide and conquer” approach to dealing with different senators’ doubts and bringing them on board; the Family Medical Leave Act; anecdote of Reef’s presence in the Rose Garden with Mitchell when the Family Medical Leave Act was signed; George H.W. Bush’s saying that they needed a “kinder, gentler nation”; Environment and Public Works Committee work and highway funding; the formula for gas tax returns; miscalculating the formula and watching the bill on the floor of the Senate for three weeks; the National Affordable Housing Act; Mitchell and the Maine delegation; Mitchell’s patience as his greatest attribute; and Mitchell’s sense of humor.
This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.