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Posted: 5:09 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016

New members of Congress test their luck for Capitol office space

New members of Congress test their luck for Capitol office space
(Washington News Bureau)

By Lacey Herbert

Washington News Bureau

WASHINGTON —

New members of the U.S. House of Representatives participated in Capitol Hill’s version of "The Hunger Games" Thursday.

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The battle was not one of life and death, but a struggle for prime real estate.

The office lottery is a Capitol Hill tradition where newly-elected lawmakers vie for office spaces available for them to move into for the next two years.

Who will get a cozy corner office with a supreme view and who will be banished to a fifth-floor spot where elevators are scarce and light is minimal?

Black and white numbered chips are placed into a wooden box and shaken.

In alphabetical order, the House members walk up, grab a chip out of the box and hear their number called out loud. The lower the number, the better the place in line to pick an office; the higher the number, the louder the laughter sharing in the member's disappointment.

New members are seeking coveted features like proximity to the Capitol, a nice view, a quality cafeteria and elevator access.

Lawmakers are able to peruse office layouts and visit the open office spaces, but their fate lies with the lottery pick.

“A couple of days ago, we kind of got a head start and took a look at some offices that were becoming available,” Rep.-elect Val Demings, D-Florida, said.

Incumbent members of the House are able to choose new office space ahead of the lottery.

Rep.-elect Lou Correa, D-California, prayed before he stuck his hand into the mix. He swiftly pulled out the chip that everyone in the room wanted, No. 1. He laughed while the room yelled and clapped in shock.

Others also prayed, some stroked their eyebrows or struck a pose, and one kneeled before the sacred box.

Only a few got lucky.

When Rep.-elect Drew Ferguson, R-Georgia, heard his name called, he walked straight over to Correa and rubbed his head for good luck.

He was the first one to try using Correa’s success to his advantage. Ferguson drew the No. 2 slot.

As some of the best numbers were drawn, lawmakers whose last names fell later in the alphabet began to get nervous and were less likely to perform rituals.

Rep. John Rutherford, R-Florida, pulled out a nine despite being one of the last called.

“Even if I picked the number 50, which I thank God I did not, it means that I will have an office here on the Hill to do the work that needs to be done for our nation and for the people back home,” Demings said.

The congressmen and congresswomen select their offices Thursday.