Negative thinking, injuries, a third glass of wine: What Members of Congress will give up for Lent

The shiny blur of Mardi Gras makes it easy to forget what comes after Fat Tuesday. But for practicing Catholics, Ash Wednesday signals the start of Lent, a time to give something up that you really like. ITK caught up with a few lawmakers to find out what they’re planning to forgo until Easter.

“I’m going to do without that third glass of wine and that second helping of dessert,” said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) on Thursday.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) had a more philosophical approach: “You know what I’m giving up? Negative thinking. I’m just not going to let myself do it.” 

Given the current state of budget negotiations, this might be a tall order for Gingrey.

A longtime vegetarian and Agni Yoga practitioner, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) doesn’t buy into the idea that Lent requires more restrictions than usual. “I try to approach every day with a spiritual discipline.” 

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) just wants to avoid getting injured. “My wife is Catholic, but I’m not,” he explained. “That said, if I had to give something up, it would probably be injuries, broken bones from playing a lot of hockey. I’d like to give those up.” 

As of last Thursday, more than a few lawmakers had yet to decide on a Lent restriction. “Wait, when is Lent?” asked one Pennsylvania Democrat. “Next Wednesday? Oh, good, well then ask me again next Wednesday.” 

It’s unclear what House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who are both Catholic, will give up. 

Boehner enjoys red wine and Pelosi is a big fan of chocolate. Spokesmen for the House leaders declined to comment.