Appropriations Committee Loses Office Space Due to Bathroom Construction

This just adds insult to injury.

The House Appropriations Committee--in some ways the most powerful committee in the entire body, a spot on which is lusted after by lawmakers from across the nation--is losing its equally plum territory just off the House floor, The New York Times' Carl Hulse reports. The indirect reason: construction of a bathroom. Hulse writes:

Republican officials say the office suite, which is just steps from the House floor for the convenience of the chairman and members - much closer than the official offices of other House leaders - will be turned into a ceremonial office for the incoming speaker, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio.

The switch, they said, was necessitated by the planned construction of a women's bathroom nearer the floor. Parliamentary staff in that space now will move across the hall into what is a ceremonial office used by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for press conferences, interviews and meetings. So Mr. Boehner will need other ceremonial space.

As Hulse rightly points out, the Appropriations Committee is losing some of its luster with the waning viability of earmarks.

The Appropriations Committee is responsible for appropriating federal money, mostly to federal agencies and programs, during Congress's annual appropriations process, filling out the budget sketch with actual money. As part of that responsibility, earmarks fall under the purview of the committee, whose members serve as gatekeepers, deciding which earmarks make it into appropriations bills and which don't.

The power is immense. Any member who wants to earmark federal money for a bridge in his district, for instance, must ask the Appropriations Committee. Appropriators have, in the past, advocated against earmarks reform.

This year, the worm is turning. House Republicans last month agreed not to request any earmarks over the next two years, and, since they will control the Appropriations Committee as of Jan. 3, there seems to be a reasonable chance that the House won't produce any earmarks next year. (The Senate, on the other hand, failed to pass an earmarks moratorium; earmarks will probably come out of the upper chamber.)

Hence less power and leverage for members of the House Appropriations Committee in the next Congress. And hence the symmetry of uprooting appropriators and staff from their prime real estate, revealing, albeit indirectly, the prioritization of a bathroom.

Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In