One-fifth of House freshmen bunk in their office

Laura Donovan Contributor
Font Size:

More than one-fifth of House freshman have taken the “bring your work home with you” concept to another level by opting to sleep in their D.C. offices.

But many freshmen feel lucky to sleep at their place of employment. They avoid commuting, rent bills and the responsibility of residence upkeep.

“It’s convenient. I don’t face the traffic,” Republican Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg and Capitol Hill camper told CBS News. “I can jokingly tell my constituents I am in my office 24 hours a day for you.”

According to a CBS News survey, 19 of the 87 new Republicans and 2 of the 9 new Democrats are sleeping in their offices.

Walberg, a 2nd time Republican freshman (he previously served in the House from 2007 to 2009), is a seasoned office bunker. Having slept in his “man cave” office during his previous term in Congress, he keeps an air mattress, a double espresso maker, and a stack of cereal boxes in his office.

“I probably got it as good as a man cave can be,” Walberg said.

Freshmen sleep on couches, rollaway beds, cots, and air mattresses. Their reasons for camping out at the office range from the economic to sending a message about not being part of Washington. Some freshmen seem to live in their offices as an incentive to visit their home districts more frequently.

“The less comfortable he is out in D.C., the more likely he is to get home as often as he can,” said Daniel Son, communications director for Wis. Rep. Sean Duffy.

Other freshmen choose to stay in the office in part so they won’t feel distanced from their jobless or less fortunate constituents.

“So, for those to suggest this is an inconvenience or a hardship, I have a great job, it’s an honor to have this job, and what’s more, I have a wonderful home in Chicago,” Republican Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley said.

Though the sleepers increase the workload for housekeeping staff, there’s nothing in the House rules that forbids house Members from sleeping in their offices.

Some freshmen say hygiene and life balance are at stake for those residing in their offices.

“I can’t see an excuse that you always want to sleep in your office because you always want to work,” Democratic Rep. Rep. Karen Bass told CBS. “You can work from anywhere. So I think it’s a question of balance, and I frankly think it’s a question of hygiene.”

Bass added that she wasn’t surprised that none of the House’s 13 new females chose to bunk in their new offices.

“I can’t see myself showering in the gym every day, no,” Bass said. “I can’t see myself walking through the halls of Congress needing to go shower.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Wis. Rep. Sean Duffy’s communications director, Daniel Son.