Around 35 hours into the Senate’s marathon session, Majority Leader Harry Reid offered kudos to the team transcribing every word he and his colleagues had spoken since 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
“I went up last evening and visited the court reporters,” the Nevada Democrat said after talking for a few minutes about the tired and anxious mood of the chamber and his plans to try to give staff some relief.
“We have 16 court reporters up on the fourth floor; they have been sharing for a little respite,” he said. “They have two beds that they are sharing, taking naps or trying at least to lay down and rest a little bit. They have worked extremely hard, you know. They work in 15-minute shifts, and they have been doing that for days now.”
Reid’s account of the Secretary of the Senate’s Office of Official Reporters of Debates falls a little short of accurate. The staff is actually stretched even thinner. There are 16 employees in the office, but only eight are reporters, according to the office.
The House also has 16 employees on the payroll in its Office of Official Reporters, according to the chamber’s most recent statement of disbursements.
Anyone who was watching the House floor during the final hours of the federal shutdown this fall witnessed an outburst from Dianne Reidy, an official reporter who was a fixture on the floor during floor proceedings.
On Oct. 16, in the midst of a late-night vote on a bill to end the government shutdown, Reidy rose from her stenotype, strode up to a microphone on the dais and began shouting about God and the Freemasons. She was hauled off the floor and out the door shouting, “You cannot serve two masters. Praise Be to God. Lord Jesus Christ.”
At the time, Reidy was transported to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. She was reportedly placed on administrative leave following the incident. Multiple House sources told CQ Roll Call on Friday that Reidy, who began working as a congressional stenographer in 2005, is still employed by the House but perhaps not in the same capacity.
Salley Wood, a House Administration Committee spokesperson who handles press inquiries for the House Clerk, said the office would not discuss personnel matters.
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.