Sen. Joe Manchin bounded into the press gallery, tossing plastic wrapped pepperoni rolls -- from a West Virginia bakery, of course -- to hungry reporters.
"Who wants one? You want one? Here's 500 calories," the West Virginia Democrat said as he emptied his cardboard box of saturated fat and then scuttled away.
It was only 5:40 p.m.
The senators themselves already had their fill of his treat, and after all, they had a barbecue hosted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to attend to in the Mansfield Room in about an hour—amid many, many more votes. Members had already gorged themselves on the bipartisan collection of goodies like Krispy Kreme doughnuts from Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and chocolate covered macadamia nuts from Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, collecting in the cloakroom. Oh, and apples, too.
Eating is how many senators stay occupied. Because this is vote-a-rama. You need fuel to get through a day, night and (quite possibly) early morning filled with a rapid succession of votes on amendments to the Senate's fiscal 2016 budget.
It's the time for Democrats and Republicans to score political points and fatten each other up for the electoral kill as they're forced to take positions on a wide-array of issues, from allowing paid sick time to increasing the minimum wage, from permitting states to opt out of Common Core without a penalty to improving the dynamic scoring provision.