Heard on the Hill

Reading Into Congressional Renovations

What’s brown and white and has sequestration sufferers seeing red?

The freshly carved-out members- and staff-only “reading room” in the Cannon House Office Building, of course.

“To me, this reeks of Congress taking special privilege for itself while telling the rest of the nation to tighten its belt,” a clearly perturbed HOH reader fired off after stumbling upon the luxuriously appointed extension of the House Library. Staffers used to trekking down to the basement “stacks” to retrieve research materials can now avail themselves of the same historical documents in Cannon 263 — with the comfort of modern amenities. There are wingback leather chairs to slump down in. A small bank of computers for Web surfing. And a conference room crowned with a high-definition, flat-screen TV.

But fear not, budget watchdogs: Staff maintains that this nascent realigning of real estate has been in the works for some time now.

“After the space was vacated by administrative staff in 2012, it was repurposed for the House Library operated by the Clerk,” a House Administration Committee aide assured HOH about the swanky new facility, which came online in February after previously serving as a satellite payroll office.

“Although small, this space allows the Library to offer hands-on assistance to House offices,” the aide asserted, adding that before, librarian-staffer interactions were much more impersonal and far less frequent.

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