Who sits where in the White House

Al Kamen
Columnist March 7, 2013

Location, location, location, the real estate folks tell us. And the primo location for an office in Washington is the West Wing of the White House. With that in mind, we’ve updated our interactive map of the first and second floors of the West Wing to show who’s sitting where.

One thing regular readers will notice is that about two-thirds of the people now closest (in terms of proximity) weren’t in those spots when we first launched the map in January 2009.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Some, of course, were at other agencies — Gene Sperling was at Treasury, for example — while others were out of government, such as communications director Jennifer Palmieri, who was at the Center for American Progress.

Other officials are making internal moves. Denis McDonough, having moved up from the White House ground floor (not shown on our chart) to a small office as deputy national security adviser, now gets the relatively spacious chief of staff’s office down the hall from the Oval Office.

Alyssa Mastromonaco, former director of scheduling and advance, was on the ground floor in 2009, but as deputy chief of staff, she’s now moved right next door to the president’s study.

Inside the West Wing

Many jobs — for example, the legislative affairs post — have turned over more than once since Obama moved in.

With the dust pretty much settled since the transition — there’s only one office in the communications area that’s not filled — the team seems pretty much in place for the second term.

You can find the interactive map at wapo.st/west-wing. Simply click on the offices to see who sits where. There are brief bios of all and photos of most of them. (We’re still working on a few.)

Fiscal false alarms?

Sequester concerns have led to eagle-eyed scrutiny of possible wasteful spending by agencies on conferences and on government officials’ travel to gabfests here and abroad.

So a couple of conferences involving the Agriculture Department naturally raised some eyebrows on the Hill.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) fired off a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack asking about one next week in Fresno, Calif., and another in Corvallis, Ore., in April that featured wine tasting.

The letter, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, asked Vilsack whether, given administration talk of cutting food-safety inspectors, he might want to cancel the two outings and use that money for inspectors.

We checked with the USDA, which is putting together a formal response to Coburn’s concerns, and were told there may be a bit less here than meets the eye.

For one thing, the department is not sponsoring the Corvallis gathering and wants the sponsors to remove the agency logo from the Web site.

In addition, the farmers attending the Small Farm Conference in Fresno are paying for the wine themselves, and apparently no one from headquarters is going out to speak. It would be local USDA folks who would speak at the conference.

The department did give California a $35,000 grant in 2010 and $25,000 last year for the conference, but that was a block grant supervised by the state. In any event, the money’s gone and, even if it weren’t, the law doesn’t allow such a move.

Well, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on these things.

You heard it here first

Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster wrapped up during the wee hours of Thursday morning, clocking in at a not-too-shabby 13 hours. But that didn’t even put him close to landing on the Loop’s list of the long and impressive filibusters in Senate history.

The Kentucky Republican would have had to have gabbed on for another hour and change to match the eighth-longest filibuster on record — by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who in 1964 held the floor for 14 hours and 13 minutes to prevent the chamber from voting on the civil rights bill.

Making Paul’s performance less than history-making, he even got an assist from a few colleagues.

But here’s what could be a first: As the Loop predicted, instead of reading from a phone book, a la Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (there aren’t many phone books around these days), the filibuster team last night actually did read from a Twitter feed.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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