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4 Oct, 2023 19:55

Office purge follows ouster of US House speaker

Ex-speaker Nancy Pelosi was moved from her “hideaway” to make room for Kevin McCarthy
Office purge follows ouster of US House speaker

Two former top Democrats in the US Congress lost their “hideaway offices” on Wednesday, as the acting speaker of the House reassigned them to Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who lost his leadership position on Tuesday in a historic vote.

Congressman Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, sent an email within 90 minutes of becoming speaker pro tempore on Tuesday, ordering Representatives Nancy Pelosi to “vacate the space tomorrow,” Axios has revealed.

“The office that Pelosi currently occupies is the office of the preceding speaker,” Congressman Garret Graves, a Louisiana Republican, told the outlet. “Now that she and other Democrats have caused there to be an immediately preceding speaker, she has removed herself from that office.”

Graves was referring to the fact that every Democrat present at Tuesday’s session voted with eight of the Republicans to vacate the speakership, making McCarthy the first-ever speaker to be voted out in the 234-year history of the House of Representatives.

There are approximately 100 secret offices in the US Capitol complex, mainly used by senators as private spaces for confidential business or personal matters. They are called “hideaways” because they are unlisted in official directories and are marked only with a room number.

Pelosi did not actually vote against McCarthy, because she was back in California for the funeral of the late Senator Dianne Feinstein. She released a statement on Wednesday denouncing McHenry’s decision as “a sharp departure from tradition.”

“As Speaker, I gave former Speaker [Dennis] Hastert a significantly larger suite of offices for as long as he wished,” Pelosi said, further lamenting that she was “unable to retrieve my belongings” due to being out of town.

Axios reported that staffers for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, helped evacuate Pelosi’s hideaway office, as well as that of Jeffries’ predecessor, Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, also ordered out by McHenry.

Pelosi and Hoyer stepped down from leadership posts – but remained members of Congress – after Republicans retook the House in the 2022 midterm elections.