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Politics & Government

New members roughing it on Capitol Hill

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The Rayburn House Office Building. Insiders say Dick Armey started the trend. Now, dozens of others are choosing to sleep in their Capitol Hill offices.

As a way of proving how fiscally conservative they are, some members of Congress are choosing to sleep in their offices on Capitol Hill.

Ashley Parker writes about the "Couch Caucus" in a New York Times piece today.

Michigan Democrat Hansen Clarke is featured in the article. He's a freshman Congressman from Michigan's 13th District (Detroit area).

Clarke is quoted in the article about why he's choosing to sleep in his office:

"Washington is not going to be a home for me — I’m only there to work. I need to be able to work up to 20 hours a day and still get some decent sleep, and if I sleep in my office I’ll be able to do that.

The Times reports the members choosing to sleep in their offices are spread across party lines, but mostly male members of Congress are choosing to do so. Parker writes about the critics of the practice:

They...complain that the practice can feel like a macho boys club, that it promotes a fierce anti-Washington sentiment that hurts bipartisanship and that, frankly, it just seems weird.

The offices are equipped with basic furniture, sinks, and bathrooms. But there are no sleeper sofas, and no showers. Members head to the gym in the office building to wash up.

Some members say they're proving they're fiscally conservative by not paying the high rents in Washington D.C. A republican from Indiana, Todd Rokita is quoted as saying "I am much too fiscally conservative... to pay that much money."

So perhaps the "Rent is Too Damn High" party is not dead after all.

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