“That was taken when he was 2 years old. He’s 4 now,” the Senator revealed with a smile on his face. “He has a little brother that is going to be 2 in November. I’ve gotten his parents to agree that we’ll have a portrait of him, same size, and I will be able to put it” directly across from the elder grandson’s. “I told my son and his wife that I was going to hang their sons’ portrait in the United States Capitol. ... It has a nice ring to it.”
For some Senators, a hideaway is a place to get away from the press and the rigors of being a lawmaker. But Cochran gets much more out of his.
“This is a working office,” he explained. “I come here because I have access to my computer. I use my computer for messages with staff members; I have offices in Mississippi, so I’m accessible to all the members of my staff.”
There is an even better place to hide if you are a Senator and want to get away, Cochran said. Behind the Senate chamber lies a “reading room with leather couches and chairs and newspapers from across the country. That’s where I go to hide, because no one has access to that room, except Senators and pages,” Cochran said. “So the chairs are comfortable, there is no telephone that’s going to ring, there is no temptation to send or receive a message.”
Others Stay Put
Aside from Cochran’s orchestrated swap, however, few senior Senators opted to trade in their Capitol offices for new digs.
The slow turnover is the result, at least in part, of few major exits at the conclusion of the 108th Congress. In addition to Hollings, only ex-Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) — then ranked 19th in seniority — gave up prime office space, and those two openings weren’t enough to set off a chain reaction.
Alaska GOP Sen. Ted Stevens (the new No. 4), New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici (No. 5) and Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy (No. 7) all declined to move, paving the way for the Hatch-Cochran deal.
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who ranks sixth on the seniority list, also elected to keep his office, which he snagged in 2003 after then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) retired.
Biden’s first-floor hideaway — which once housed both Sens. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.) and Bill Roth (R-Del.) — features ornate ceilings, a chandelier and one much-coveted amenity, a full bathroom.
“It’s beautiful,” a Biden spokesman said of the office.
Indiana Republican Sen. Dick Lugar’s hideaway likewise boasts a bathroom, but an aide said it is the office’s location on the third floor that prompted the ninth-most senior Senator to keep his current space.
“It’s very close to getting down to the floor to vote,” the aide said.
An aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) confirmed the No. 2 most senior Member will continue to inhabit his third-floor hideaway near the Senate Radio-TV Gallery. The spacious office features an excellent view of the National Mall and is decorated with family memorabilia.
Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords (I), ranked No. 30 in seniority, similarly declined an offer to move from the ground-floor hideaway he has occupied for four years.