The first week of office selection is in the books and Rep. Don Young came out on top.
Sworn in March 6, 1973, the Alaska Republican will be the sixth-most-senior Representative in the 112th Congress. Bumped up one spot on the seniority list by the retirement of Rep. David Obey, Young will appropriately be moving his large collection of taxidermied animal heads into the Wisconsin Democrat’s spacious corner office on the Rayburn House Office Building’s third floor.
“Unfortunately, we’re giving up our view of the Capitol, but it was a nice big space for us to acquire,” said Pamela Day, Young’s chief of staff. “It’s the largest room available. It’s a great opportunity for us to expand our space a little bit.”
Though he got the best choice, Young is just one of more than 60 House incumbents who decided to move this year. It’s a biennial ritual, a game of dominos of sorts: One senior Member moves out and another takes his or her place.
Members with eight or more terms of service under their belts had to submit applications to move by Nov. 9, and 21 of them decided to do so. Less-senior Members chose on the days following them.
Every retiring or defeated Member must move out by noon Dec. 1. Then, the Architect of the Capitol will devise a schedule that could keep the rest of the offices moving, one by one, for months to come.
“The whole process is automated. It works like clockwork every two years,” said Day, who has been a Capitol Hill staffer for about a decade.
Since Young is vacating his first-floor Rayburn office, the next most senior Member who chose to move decided to take it over. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), sworn in March 1, 1983, will relocate from the back end of the building’s second floor.
“The office we’re moving into is the exact same size and shape of our current office, but instead of overlooking the Southeast freeway, it overlooks the U.S. Capitol,” Ackerman’s chief of staff Jedd Moskowitz said. “We turned down an office with a bit more space, but with a poorer view and a bit different configuration. Maybe size isn’t everything.”
“Mr. Young’s office promised to remove all of the stuffed animal heads,” he added.
Next up is Rep. Howard Coble. But the North Carolina Republican broke ranks in choosing his office. Both he and Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) took office Jan. 3, 1985, but since Kanjorski lost his re-election bid, Coble is snatching his office — or more accurately, Coble’s chief of staff Ed McDonald is.
“He left the executive decision up to me,” McDonald said. “He never wants to move. We’d still be in the fifth floor of Cannon [House Office Building] if it was up to him.”
But with an additional 200 square feet of space, a Capitol view and a room on the same floor as both of his committees (Judiciary and Transportation and Infrastructure), the first-floor Rayburn room was too good an opportunity to pass up, McDonald said.
Being closer to her committee was Rep. Nita Lowey’s consideration when moving offices, said her spokesman Matt Dennis — that and a size upgrade.
The 11-term New York Democrat is moving next door to the House Appropriations Committee hearing room and to the third-floor Rayburn corner office that will be vacated by defeated Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.).
Rep. Ike Skelton (R-Mo.) is the only other top-25 most senior Members to lose re-election. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is taking his old second-floor Rayburn office.
Two unlikely movers will also be joining the third-floor crowd: Reps. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).
Both originally joined Congress in 1995, but Bass was booted out in 2006 and Chabot in 2008. They won re-election this year and come back with their seniority intact.
They’ll have plenty of time to bond because they’ll be right next to each other in Rayburn.
A few party leaders have decided to change offices, too.
As if GOP transition head Rep. Greg Walden doesn’t have enough on his plate, the Oregon Republican is moving from Rayburn’s third floor to the first.
Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will be moving not only his Capitol office, assuming he wins the Majority Leader slot today, but he’s also moving down the hall on Cannon’s third floor.
Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) is moving from Cannon’s first floor to Longworth House Office Building’s fifth. Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) will move from Longworth’s first floor to the second.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.