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GOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority

The artwork hanging in Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE’s (R-Wis.) office has been ripped off the walls.

Scores of lame-duck lawmakers are temporarily working out of makeshift cubicles in the House basement — a place that some staffers jokingly refer to as “loser town.”

And GOP-led committees are significantly slashing their staffs in preparation for smaller budgets next year.

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Welcome to life in the minority.

House Republicans — two-thirds of whom have only served in the majority — are not only coming to terms with losing control over the agenda next year, but are also grappling with all the other pains that come with losing power.

That has contributed to a sour and somber mood in the Capitol as House Republicans prepare to limp their way across the finish line, with a surge of members skipping the last few vote series of the year and complicating GOP leadership’s whip operation just before the holidays.

House Democrats, meanwhile, are giddy over winning back the lower chamber and are already gearing up for their newfound majority, which will give them subpoena, impeachment and other oversight powers.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyIRS closes in on final phase of challenging tax season Virginia voter registration website back up after outage on last day to register Judge issues nationwide injunction against Postal Service changes MORE (D-Va.), on his way to a meeting with Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump predicts GOP will win the House Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | On The Money: Pelosi cites progress, but says COVID-19 relief deal might be post-election | Eviction crisis sparked by pandemic disproportionately hits minorities | Weekly jobless claims fall to 787K MORE (D-Calif.), even accidentally started walking in the direction of Ryan’s office on Wednesday afternoon.

“Where am I going?” Connolly asked out loud, as he turned to head in the right direction. “I thought she was Speaker already!”

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Republicans lost a whopping 40 seats in the midterm elections, and in doing so handed power back to the Democrats for the first time since 2010.

As a result, leadership offices will soon be switching over, with Republicans losing some of their lush office space with prime views and conference areas. Once able to fit their entire staffs in one office, certain leadership offices will now be split up on different floors.

Democrats will also gain control of the ceremonial offices off the House floor once held by Ryan, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRocky Mountain National Park closed due to expanding Colorado wildfire Trump is out of touch with Republican voters on climate change The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Iran, Russia election bombshell; final Prez debate tonight MORE (R-Calf.).

GOP members will also now have to get permission to have access to the Speaker’s Balcony — a prime piece of real estate that overlooks the Washington Monument.

And Republican conference meetings will soon take place in the Capitol Visitor Center, allowing the new Democratic majority to occupy the larger and more conveniently located meeting space in the Capitol’s basement.

House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins MORE (R-La.), who will serve as minority whip in the 116th Congress, said he’s been talking to McCarthy about how both of their roles will change come January.

“Same title, Republican leader, Republican whip, but they’re very different job descriptions, and you know, we’re starting to work through that and focus on how we can be the most effective in our new jobs,” he told The Hill in an interview earlier this month. 

It’s not just leadership that is in for major structural and strategy changes.

The Republican and Democratic committee staffs will also swap offices — and budgets.

The majority is entitled to two-thirds of a panel’s budget while the minority receives the rest of the funds, which has forced Republicans to start paring down their staffs in preparation for the power reversal and has contributed to the wave of Republicans now competing for work.

The GOP staffers will also have to fork over their larger office spaces, which are typically located closer to the hearing room.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is just one of the congressional panels preparing to make the big switch. The majority office seen on Wednesday had bare walls, packed-up boxes and one of its doors off its hinges.

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Outgoing Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.), meanwhile, was seen ducking into his panel’s hearing room, telling The Hill that he was preparing to thank his hardworking staff and say goodbye.

Other members who are on their way out the door — some of whom have been sporting casual looks and five o’clock shadows around the Capitol — appear to have a case of senioritis and have stopped showing up for floor votes, making it even tougher for congressional leaders who had been scrambling to avert a Christmastime government shutdown over the past few weeks.

Last week, outgoing GOP Reps. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James Barletta10 bellwether counties that could signal where the election is headed Bottom Line Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs MORE (Pa.), Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonLobbying world Bottom line Ex-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street MORE (Texas), Dan Donovan (N.Y.), Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill's Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE (Calif.) and Raúl Labrador (Idaho) all ditched the vote on the must-pass farm bill.

And GOP leaders were hoping to pass a bill containing $5 billion for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE’s border wall but struggled to secure the votes. Some of the ousted lawmakers were mocked by Trump after their losses and had little incentive to support Trump’s top priority.

Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsThe Hill's Campaign Report: New polls show Biden leading by landslide margins The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - In Rose Garden, Trump launches anti-Biden screed Pete Sessions wins GOP runoff in comeback bid MORE (R-Texas), a veteran member of leadership who lost his seat after a 20-year reign in Congress, was spotted on Wednesday sporting a sweatshirt over a collared shirt and holding a box of office supplies as he made his way through the basement of a House office building.

Before continuing on his way, however, Sessions delivered one last departing message to The Hill: “Don’t give up on me!”