“The Senator is very happy with the place he’s got,” said Jeffords’ spokeswoman Diane Derby, who added the space has a “great view” of the West Front while being “cozy and quaint.”
Among the handful of Senators who did accept invitations to upgrade their space are Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R), 42nd in seniority and Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), 43rd.
Hutchison moved into the hideaway last used by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who holds the 36th spot. Feinstein’s office confirmed the move but did not have any specifics to share.
An aide to Hutchison said the office, like her previous abode, does not have windows but does offer more space.
Bound to the Basement
Despite occupying some of the Capitol’s less-than-desirable spaces, several more junior Senators likewise elected to pass up the opportunity to move, noting their offices, often located on the basement level, are still convenient.
Among those, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), No. 47 in seniority, declined to move out of his current basement office in the Capitol’s northwest corner, which an aide described as “utilitarian” and “pretty plain.”
A spokesman for Sen. Craig Thomas (R), 48th in the seniority rankings, similarly described the Wyoming lawmaker’s basement digs, stating: “It’s pretty simple in there.”
The office features a couch, coffee table, computer and numerous bookshelves.
“It’s a space he utilizes when it’s a particularly pressing reason to escape down there,” the aide added, noting that the lawmaker has used it during the recent presidential inauguration as well as during the State of the Union address.
One step down the list at No. 49, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) will also keep the hideaway assigned to him in 2003.
The Republican Conference chairman moved into the basement office after his East Front hideaway became inaccessible due to construction of the Capitol Visitor Center.
“It’s convenient,” Santorum spokeswoman Christine Shott said of the windowless space. “He’s able to hold meetings there ... and it’s a nice space.”
(Entering the 109th Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ranked at No. 50 on the seniority list, which would appear to make him eligible for a hideaway slot — leadership posts don’t factor into seniority calculations — but a spokeswoman said the Tennessee Republican does not currently occupy one of the offices.)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), 54th in overall seniority, said he would also hold onto his hideaway space, noting it is “conveniently located” near elevators and easily accessed from his Minority Whip office in the Capitol.
Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), ranked 61st, 66th and 67th, respectively, also elected to keep their current offices.
Other Senate lawmakers are, of course, less than willing to discuss their Capitol real estate, acknowledging only that they occupy one of the coveted spaces but declining to give out details.
“We don’t call them ‘hideaways,’” chided Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who ranks at No. 23, when asked about her own space. “We call them Capitol offices.”
Similarly, an aide to North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan (No. 37) replied to a request about the Senator’s coveted space by stating: “We don’t discuss the hideaway.”