Monday, November 2, 2015
De-Toxifying Boehner's Office--The new owner of a dead civic official's house here had to put new drywall in his den
For somone with extreme allergies to smoke, this is delightful reading!
NEW YORK TIMES
WASHINGTON — There are many things Americans cannot yet know about Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plans for his fancy new digs on Capitol Hill. Dark curtains or sheers? Memorabilia from the 2012 presidential campaign or his first House race in 1998? Will he hang a poster of his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine?
Mr. Ryan said he would most likely rely on an “ozone machine” to “detoxify the environment” of the palatial speaker’s office, which he apparently views as about as habitable as a smelly motel off the interstate in 1978. Deeper cleaning and a carpet change would come later, and taxpayers would be expected to foot the bill.
When Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, lost her speaker’s gavel in the 2010 Republican rout of the House, she was forced to reinhabit Mr. Boehner’s prior office as he moved into her spot.
The House superintendent replaced carpets, peeled the paint off the walls and repainted them, and replaced the curtains, all in the name of smoke odor eradication. This was not at Ms. Pelosi’s request. “We are all paying the price for Speaker Boehner’s smoking,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi.
While the transition from Mr. Boehner to Mr. Ryan is unusual in its timing in the middle of a congressional session, renovations of the speaker’s suite routinely take place when the office changes hands. In 2006, with a bathroom renovation already underway and a new speaker coming shortly, Ms. Pelosi declared that a urinal in the speaker’s bathroom would no longer be necessary.
Mr. Ryan, 45, exercises vigorously and is more in step with the modern Congress in terms of its smoking habits than Mr. Boehner, 65, a heavy smoker who shuns any outward concerns about health. Smoking has gone increasingly out of style among members, and the places for them to smoke have also faded away.
The District of Columbia has strict laws prohibiting smoking in public spaces. But Congress, as the basic overlords of the district, eluded that ban by making sure that the district’s laws and regulations did not apply to “the functions or property of the federal government,” which include the Capitol. So members may indeed smoke in their offices.
In one of her first acts as speaker in 2007, Ms. Pelosi banned smoking in the speaker’s lobby, the members’ hangout off the House floor, declaring in a news release that “the days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over.”
House members who smoked were banished to a balcony of shame just off the lobby, where they would sit and shiver (or sweat) with their puffing peers outdoors.
In a fit of pique in 2007, Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, once called the Capitol police on former Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, for smoking a cigar in his office. Mr. Tancredo did not like this.
The Senate is not known for smokers, either — it banned the practice in the Senate chamber in 1914 because an elderly member had breathing problems — but there are two spittoons on the Senate floor that have been largely out of use since the 1980s.
This is not the first time Mr. Ryan has complained about Mr. Boehner’s smoking. Last year in an interview with Time he said, “I try to sit as far away from him as I can in meetings that I know are going to be stressful. I just hate getting that smell in my clothes.”