The transition of office space requires weeks to complete. Stacks of furniture – including office chairs, desks, lamps, podiums, plaques and boxes – sit in some of the hallways outside U.S. House offices. Computers, phones and electronics are moved, too. Work crews ensure members of Congress maintain their old office phone numbers after moving to new suites, to maintain continuity for constituents back home.
An Architect of the Capitol report from April said in the transition to the 113th congress, it organized moving 222 House offices and 32 Senate ones. The stats aren’t available yet for how many offices will be swapped this year, but with more than 60 lawmakers departing – many of them veterans leaving behind some of the Capitol’s most coveted locales – the AOC is hard at work serving as the members’ moving company.
There’s a certain irony to the lawmakers charging to move to better offices as they wrestle this week over a bill to fund the government.
Whether members of Congress desiring more upscale digs is an appropriate cost to taxpayers isn’t a new concern. The Chicago Tribune explored the issue in 1994, writing that some were calling for an end to the every two-year office hopping. Former senator Harris Wofford (D-Pa.) introduced a bill to make office spaces, at least in the Senate, permanent.
“The (biennial) game of musical offices is expensive, confusing, disruptive and unnecessary,” Wofford wrote in a letter, according to the 20-year-old article.
But what’s the perk of seniority, if not better real estate?