Politics

House Republicans Really Love Chick-fil-A

GOP conference has spent $32,400 there so far this Congress

Chick-fil-A is the restaurant of choice for House Republicans. (Courtesy J.Reed/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Have a fixin’ for some chicken?

House Republicans seem to, as evidenced by the thousands of dollars the conference has spent at Chick-fil-A during the 114th Congress.

The spending details, made available by the House's chief administrative officer, show the Republican conference purchased food 18 times from the Atlanta-headquartered fast food chain since this Congress began in January 2015.

In total, the House GOP has spent $32,400 on the chicken (and possibly biscuits and waffle fries, too). At $79 for a large plate of “Chick-n-Strips,” that’s enough to feed at least 500 people per purchase (after taxes).

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s office has also dropped some cash at the restaurant — $2,500 during May and June of this year.

No matter how much Republicans on the Hill like breaded chicken, it’s hard to ignore the political connection between the party and the fast food chain. Chick-fil-A, which famously closes on Sundays, was in the national spotlight in 2012 when its president, Dan Cathy, spoke out against gay marriage.

Asked via email if the chain's politics had anything to do with the caucus' choice to order there, House Republican conference spokesman Nate Hodson said only that “Chick-fil-A is easy to order; reliably delivered on time; cheaper than in-house options; and tastes good.”

Cathy has donated a handful of times to political candidates, according to FEC filings. This cycle, he contributed $2,700 — the maximum amount allowed — to conservative Georgia businessman Jim Pace, who narrowly lost the Republican primary election to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Lynn Westmoreland.

Both Republicans and Democrats use outside catering, according to the House data, and each party’s caucus spent more at catering-specific companies than they did at any local or chain restaurants.

But when they do order from a brand, Democrats appear to have their own favorite restaurant. It isn’t nearly as widely known outside the Beltway, but the chamber’s Democratic conference has spent $40,000 over 17 purchases at Maryland-based Bethesda Bagels for its weekly members meetings this Congress.

Around 190 members can attend these Democratic weekly meetings and Bethesda Bagels "helpfully provides food by 6:45 a.m. for self-catering, with few hours notice," a spokeswoman for the House Democratic conference said via email. 

At $24 per dozen bagels, the conference could afford more than 1,000 bagels per visit.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the beginning of the 114th Congress as January 2015. Contact McMinn at seanmcminn@cqrollcall.com or on Twitter @shmcminn

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