Too bad there are no bunk rooms in Congress. Back in the 19th century, Representatives bedded down in boarding houses along the streets behind the Capitol Building.
With bunk rooms in the Congress, citizens who want to communicate face to face with elected representatives — an aspiration of that wistful idea that the USA is still a government by and for the people — could troll the halls of Congress during the day, overnighting in the hypothetical people’s bunk room.
Some Members of Congress may nap or stay overnight in their offices. Speaker Paul Ryan does, sparing taxpayers a hotel tab. Corporate communications execs (aka lobbyists) enjoy expense account suites at an array of hotels on Capitol Hill. No uncertainties for that group.
What is the general public to do about participating in government? Studies suggest that whatever the public thinks, their views have almost no impact on those who craft America’s laws. Yet, US citizens continue to visit their representatives in the House and Senate. While there might be a handshake and photo op with the elected representative, usually visitors are met by interns or junior staffers, the nodders and smilers who fill in the background space. The elected representative is probably lunching with a lobbyist-communicator from a special interest group or on an expense-paid junket to a foreign country called a CODEL (Congressional Delegation).
After security officers shoo away visitors to the capitol buildings, people who are not flush with corporate expense accounts could rest their sore feet at a nearby AirBNB room, or in a pinch, head to a city shelter for the homeless, a reality-based DC experience. There’s an inexpensive international travelers’ hostel some 13 blocks west of North Capitol Street which borders Capitol Hill. The best value lodging for earnest citizens intent on scolding or sharing ideas with their Congressional Reps would probably be out along the Interstate highways where edge-city lodging is cheaper.
Whatever your participation role in your government, don’t miss an opportunity to visit the Library of Congress Main Reading Room which is a treasure.
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