Sometimes, when a glass ceiling cracks, it’s time to call in a construction crew. Such is the case in the Senate, where a historic number of female senators has meant traffic jams in the ladies’ room off the Senate floor. Now there are renovations underway to make room.
Once completed (after the August recess, the women are being told ), they’ll have a nicer and more spacious facility befitting their number, which is 20 — a fifth of the Senate.
“We’re even going to have a window,” enthused Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
Of course, in this case, a john isn’t just a john — it’s a symbol. After the elections last year, the crowded ladies’ room became a running joke among the female senators, a visible indication that they had outgrown the small digs that had sufficed for years.
“It’s a really positive sign of how things have changed here,” Shaheen said of the construction dust.
For the moment, the project is causing a little inconvenience. During last night’s vote on the farm bill, we spotted Sen. Heidi Heitkamp hopping on an elevator. The North Dakota Democrat told us she was in search of the alternate loo the women must use until the new one’s ready. Heitkamp good-naturedly bemoaned that as a freshman newcomer to the labyrinthine halls of the Capitol, she’s still learning her way around.
“Just when I get to know where I’m going, I have to find somewhere new,” she said.