Defeated House members thrown out of their offices, given cafeteria desks

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Go looking for the outgoing members of Congress in their offices, and you might find only the cleaning crew.

Those members who lost their seats in November or decided to retire have already been evicted from their offices. Now, they work out of a series of numbered cubicles set up in what is usually a part of the cafeteria in Rayburn, a House office building, as they serve out the final weeks of their term.

No longer do they have space for multiple staffers and several interns. Instead, said Eva Malecki, communications director for the Architect of the Capitol, which takes care of all the moving, the cubicles have “space for the member and a staffer or two.”

“Each office handles it differently, but typically they will rotate staffers,” Malecki said, with a different staffer working at the desk each day. They do get to keep their phone numbers; those don’t get switched out until the next Congress comes in.

The members themselves spend minimal amount of time in the cubicles, Malecki said, as they busy themselves with their final days of votes and committee hearings and other business.

In the mean time, the Architect of the Capitol takes care of “redoing the suites to prepare them for the next occupants.” They take care of the everything from repainting, patching holes in the walls, to taking down shelves.

They also take care of moving out the representative’s personal effects, whatever those may be.

“Sometimes offices have interesting collections. … You’ll see some interesting things in the halls,” she said, offering taxidermy as an example.

New members do not get to move anything in to their offices until after they are sworn in in January, but the Architect of the Capitol has their offices all “ready to go” so “they hit the ground running.”

Outgoing senators do not have to suffer the same indignities as their counterparts in the House.

Their things are moved out of their office “over a series of months starting in January,” Malecki said. In the meantime, new members are put up “in temporary office space as we get their space ready.”

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