The Race

It was 10:15 am on Inauguration Day, and John Paul Farmer was beginning to lose hope.

The former Obama White House staffer had spent the last night at his sister’s apartment in Washington DC, working the phones and emailing any sentient being he’d met during his years in Washington. Farmer was trying to find someone, anyone, who could get the Tested Ability to Leverage Exceptional Talent Act—the Talent Act, for short—to President Barack Obama. The bill would make law a program to give technologists temporary tours of government duty.

It had received bipartisan support in the House and Senate that week, but it still needed the president’s signature to become law. If he signed, it would take another act of Congress to dismantle.

But with roads closed throughout Washington, security checkpoints causing even more gridlock, a shoestring staff left at the White House, and less than two hours to go in Obama’s presidency, odds seemed slim that the physical piece of parchment on which the law was printed would get to the 44th president before there was a 45th.

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