In a surprising turn of events, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Steny Hoyer were displaced from their “hideaway offices” on Wednesday. This occurred after Kevin McCarthy, the Republican representative from California, lost his leadership position in a historic vote the day before.
Congressman Patrick McHenry, who became the speaker pro tempore on Tuesday, wasted no time in reassigning the offices. He sent an email just 90 minutes into his new role, ordering Pelosi to vacate her office space. It should be noted that these offices are traditionally granted to the preceding speaker, as explained by Congressman Garret Graves, a Louisiana Republican. He stated, “The office that Pelosi currently occupies is the office of the preceding speaker. Now that she and other Democrats have caused there to be an immediately preceding speaker, she has removed herself from that office.”
The reason behind this displacement can be traced back to Tuesday’s session, where every Democrat, along with eight Republicans, voted to vacate the speakership. This unprecedented move resulted in McCarthy becoming the first-ever speaker to be voted out in the 234-year history of the House of Representatives.
These “hideaway offices” play a crucial role in the functioning of Congress, serving as private spaces for confidential business and personal matters. Approximately 100 of these offices are scattered throughout the US Capitol complex, mainly used by senators. They are discreetly marked with room numbers and remain unlisted in official directories.
It is important to note that Pelosi did not directly vote against McCarthy, as she was unable to attend the session due to the funeral of Senator Dianne Feinstein in California. However, she expressed her disapproval of McHenry’s decision in a statement released on Wednesday. Pelosi stated, “As Speaker, I gave former Speaker [Dennis] Hastert a significantly larger suite of offices for as long as he wished,” emphasizing the departure from tradition. Furthermore, she mentioned being unable to retrieve her belongings because of her absence from Washington.
According to Axios, staffers for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, assisted in evacuating both Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s hideaway offices. McHenry had also ordered Hoyer, Jeffries’ predecessor, to vacate his office. It is worth noting that Pelosi and Hoyer had stepped down from their leadership posts but remained members of Congress following the 2022 midterm elections, during which Republicans regained control of the House.
This unexpected turn of events highlights the shifting dynamics within the House of Representatives as new leadership takes shape. The reassignment of these offices signifies a symbolic shift in power, as McCarthy assumes the role of the previous speaker. It remains to be seen how this change will impact the dynamics and functioning of Congress in the coming days and weeks.