Dogs dressed as tacos, sharks and Kyrsten Sinema take over Capitol Hill

Halloween for Congress means dogs, dogs and more dogs

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., gets his dogs Mitch, dressed as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Theo, dressed as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., ready in his office for the’ annual Bipawtisan Halloween Dog Parade in the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., gets his dogs Mitch, dressed as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Theo, dressed as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., ready in his office for the’ annual Bipawtisan Halloween Dog Parade in the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted October 27, 2021 at 8:30pm

It was a costume parade so exciting, not even Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pawlosi could miss it — well, at least not their canine doppelgangers. 

“If we can find Nancy, we ought to get them to meet,” said Sen. Thom Tillis on Wednesday, pointing to his cocker spaniel poodle mix dressed in a suit jacket and a small white wig. The dog’s name is Mitch, in honor of the Senate Republican leader.

Tillis also brought along his 6-month-old puppy named Theo, who was dressed up like Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, complete with a purple wig and leggings that match the zebra-print coat she wore to the swearing-in of fellow Arizonan Mark Kelly in December 2020. 

The costumed dogs gathered in the Hart Senate Office Building atrium with their human companions to celebrate the third-annual “bipawtisan” Halloween party hosted by Tillis, a North Carolina Republican. 

Staffers, senators and their dogs participate in TIllis’ annual dog parade on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill is always a dog-friendly place. Lawmakers and staffers are often seen with their dogs in tow, or propping them up for photo ops in committee hearing rooms. 

“I seriously wish everybody had a dog; I think the place would work better,” said Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who sometimes leaves his Norwich terrier at the House chamber door while he goes to vote. “It’s one of the few unifying opportunities in this institution that needs more of it.”

But when Halloween comes around, the dog mania reaches a whole new level. 

A pair of doodles came dressed as Princess Leia and Darth Vader. At least one dog made a political statement, wearing a “Tax the Cats” costume in a hat tip to Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Met Gala attire. There were a lot of walking hot dogs, multiple tacos, a school of sharks, a rocket, a pineapple, a pair of loose zebras and more dogs dressed as hot dogs. 

A staffer (who did not wish to give his name) dressed as Scooby-Doo heads to the dog parade on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Back in 2019, in the event’s second year, the costume parade was just supposed to be a simple affair in a Senate office building, but it grew quickly. 

“All of a sudden I go out and it’s like 50 dogs and 100 people,” recalled Tillis, who moved it from the hallway to the atrium on the fly. “Well, the Capitol Police came around, and they thought it was like some sort of spontaneous, unauthorized protest — oopsie.”

So this year, they did it by the rules.

“Thank god we got this one through,” said Charles E. Schumer on the Senate floor last week, after no lawmakers raised an objection to his unanimous consent request for the event to be held. 

“I thank Ted Cruz for not even objecting to it,” Tillis joked.