Freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) made a rookie mistake Friday morning when he attempted to bring a six-pack of craft beer onto the floor of the House of Representatives.
Cunningham laughed off the incident after he was stopped, according to a reporter on the scene. He later explained that he was trying to bring beer from local breweries in his home state to Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), co-chairman of the House Small Brewers Caucus.
Only water is allowed on the House floor.
DeFazio was spotted on Capitol Hill later Friday with the beers in hand, which came from South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Co. and Coast Brewing. Rebecca Drago, a spokeswoman for Cunningham, confirmed DeFazio received the beers.
“Luckily this story has a happy ending, he left it in the Cloakroom and DeFazio got it in the end!” she said in an email on Saturday.
DeFazio is a major supporter of local beer, and he’s not alone. The Small Brewers Caucus included 234 members across 43 states as of July, according to its website.
He said Congress should bend its ban on booze to accommodate craft beer.
Drago said on Saturday that Cunningham has made a point of highlighting South Carolina breweries since his campaign, and he had been talking to his new colleagues about them. She said he only brought the beer to the House floor because he was rushing to catch a flight and didn’t have time to bring the six-pack to DeFazio’s office.
“As a freshman, Joe was unaware of the floor rules regarding beverages,” Drago said in the email.
He’s not the first freshman to goof up the rules. When Rep Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) was new, he tried to bring a cup of coffee onto the House floor. House guards sent him to the coatroom instead.
Even so, Cunningham’s faux pas brewed trouble with Republicans. Republican National Committee spokeswoman Mandi Merritt issued a statement to the Charleston’s Post and Courier that said the stunt showed Democrats weren’t serious about working with Republicans on border security.
"We knew Democrats were playing partisan games with our national security, but now, they apparently want to play drinking games, too,” she said. “Rep. Joe Cunningham should be ashamed.”
In another tweet on Friday, Cunningham said he would “never apologize” for promoting the local businesses.