Friday, November 13, 2015

New House Speaker Sleeps in His Office

NYT reports:

The speaker has no house.

Of all his unusual traits for his new role — relative youth, a love of Clif Bars for lunch and an excessive interest in tax policy — the most notable may be Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s insistence on sleeping in his Capitol Hill office.

Like scores of other members of Congress, most of them Republican, Mr. Ryan chooses to bed down on a cot in his office every night the House is in session. He chooses this over the speaker’s official palatial suite in the Capitol, which Mr. Ryan has pointed out stinks thanks to smoke from its prior inhabitant, John A. Boehner.

So it is that he sleeps in his far smaller office in the Longworth House Office Building, one of three such buildings that over the years have become veritable homeless shelters for members of the House.

For the lawmakers, the choice is fiscal, practical and political. Many say they find Washington rental prices too high. Others say it allows them to work longer and harder hours, unfettered by commutes and the distraction of Jimmy Fallon...

“I live in Janesville, Wis.,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview with CNN last weekend, referring to his 5,800-square-foot Georgian (locally referred to as the Parker Mansion because it was built by George Parker of Parker pens). “I commute back and forth every week. I just work here. I don’t live here. I get up very early in the morning. I work out. I work until about 11:30 at night. I go to bed, and I do the same thing the next day.”

He added, “I can actually get more work done by sleeping on a cot in my office, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

The cot club has at least 50 members. No one keeps an official tally, and many are loath to talk about a practice that some groups and other members have criticized over the years as essentially taxpayer-subsidized housing. Its members include the most senior Republican leaders, Mr. Ryan and Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the majority leader, as well as a handful of women.


  1. Lucky for them there aren't any zoning issues for office buildings in DC! I wonder what would happen if this was a company with employees setting up cots in their offices...

  2. I learned quite a bit because of this article:
    1) Paul Ryan js 45 years old and has worked as a legislative aide, political speechwriter, legislative director, and professional politician. Somewhere amongst all that he worked for a year in a construction firm owned by relatives. He lives in a mansion. Politics pays apparently.
    2) Mansions in Wisconsin are cheap and relatively modest. At least the Parker mansion. Maybe political payoffs for Ryan haven't been that impressive yet.
    3) Parker was a telegraph operator who parlayed an ingenious innovation that stopped pens from leaking into the Parker pen empire. Parker pens was HQed in Janesville, WI, until they bailed out of the U.S. back in 2009. His mansion, one of the fruits of using brains and initiative to satisfy people's needs in voluntary transactions, has now passed into the hands of a political crony, who reaps the fruits of coercion and control.
    4) I don't care if Ryan sleeps on a cot in his office or on a park bench on Pennsylvania Avenue.

  3. Ryan's supposed need to work long hours reminds me of that passage by C.S. Lewis:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  4. God save us from hardworking politicians.

  5. "a handful of women" ... of ill repute.