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US Congress Office

Here’s How Congressional Rookies Pick Their New Offices

Posted December 4, 2018 By Andrew Littlefield

If you’ve ever moved offices, you know the amount of political wrangling that goes into choosing a place to sit.

I once worked for a company that moved from a cramped, dark space to an expansive, light-filled office. Everyone was pretty excited about their new digs. Except, of course, for the woman whose assigned desk was right next to the bathroom doors.

Needless to say, you can’t make everybody happy. Your best bet is to let seniority rule, and settle all other disputes by random chance.

That’s the solution the U.S. Congress uses for newly elected members. Outgoing members get their offices snatched up by those with the longest tenure, but newbies to the House rely on a lottery to decide the pecking order.

The tradition dates back to 1908, when the first Congressional office building was erected. Before that, representatives worked at their desks in the chamber without staff. Since then, two additional office facilities have been built, some with more coveted real estate than others.

On Friday, the newest batch of elected officials made their selections and the superstitions abounded.



The Cannon House Office Building was completed in 1908, followed by the Longworth House Office Building in 1933 and the Rayburn House Office Building in 1965—this newest building apparently being the most desired among lawmakers.

The lottery itself has become a bit of a spectacle, with an audience groaning and cheering for members based on the number they draw. Many members brought along good luck charms, performed good luck dances, or in the case of Kansas representative Sharice Davids—good luck push-ups. (She drew number 64 of 85. Maybe crunches work better?)



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