Hungry, hungry House members

It’s official: The hottest trend in the lower chamber this spring is fasting.

From progressive members like Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) to staunch conservatives like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), it seems everyone’s got a reason to give up the grub. 

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For King, Lent seemed like the perfect time to “make weight.” So he’s going hungry all day until 6 p.m., ending on Easter Sunday.

“If Christ could do 40 days and 40 nights, then at least I could make weight by Easter, right?” he asked ITK rhetorically on Wednesday.

As for what making weight entails, King said it’s “dialing my weight down to 174 pounds, so the needle can bounce but won’t go over 175.”

King then showed he knows a lot about caloric arithmetic — perhaps too much.

“I know that 3,550 calories is a pound, and it takes 2,851 to maintain my body weight at my exercise level, so I dial those calories down and I can lose a couple of pounds a week.

“But it’s hard for me to keep that calorie intake down, so I picked a time. I’m not going to eat until 6 o’clock at night.”

King admitted that he’s sometimes had a splash of cream in his coffee, but otherwise he’s on track. 

Of course, there is always temptation. 

“When I was coming in from Omaha [on the plane], I nodded off for a little nap, and I opened my eyes and it’s about 4:30 p.m. and there’s a chocolate chip cookie. 

“So what did I do? I sat there and stared at it for an hour and a half, and then, on the dot of 6, I ate it.”

As for how he feels, “There’s a constant gnaw in my stomach that reminds me of how Christ died for our sins.”

But when it comes time for King to break the fast, he admitted he eats a hearty meal. “I had Chinese a few nights ago.” 

Despite a few unhealthy suppers, he’s on track to hit his target weight. 

“I’m down now to 175 or 176, so I’m within a couple pounds.” Tugging proudly at his loose shirt collar, he added, “You can kind of tell.”

Lee has a different take on hungry days. 

Following a large-scale daylong fast last week by liberals, Lee is spearheading a continued fasting for “a few members a day, one day at a time, all the way until Easter,” she told ITK. 

“We’re working and fasting with 36,000 people in groups all over the country, but I actually started the fast on Capitol Hill,” Lee said of the prior week’s endeavor. 

Lee explained how it works: “It’s water only for 24 hours.” Unlike King’s fast, Lee said, there is no coffee and no late-night Chinese food allowed. 

“We’ll have one or two members a day doing it up until Easter.”

Lee believes many Americans don’t understand the negative impact that proposed budget cuts will have on the poor, and her fast is intended as a way to draw attention to her position.

Joining Lee will be Democratic Reps. Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), among about two dozen others.

“For me personally, fasting reminds me that while I’ll be off the fast in 24 hours, other people stay hungry all the time,” Lee explained. “I’ve already gone a day, but I’m going to do it again.” 

Lee said she would likely fast for “a total of three or four days.” 

Schakowsky and DeLauro fasted on Tuesday, and Clarke will consume only water on Friday.