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story.lead_photo.caption U.S. Rep. French Hill on Friday holds framed currency from Europe’s former communist bloc countries. Hill’s office moved to a different floor in the Longworth Office Building near the U.S. Capitol. - Photo by Frank E. Lockwood

WASHINGTON -- With more than 50 House members retiring and dozens of others evicted by voters, the scramble is on for prime office space on Capitol Hill.

In the three House office buildings this month, the hallways are a jumble of boxes and upturned furniture.

Movers have been working nonstop to make the transition go smoothly.

The task must be complete by Jan. 3, the first day of the 116th session of Congress.

A few of the offices are reserved for particular lawmakers. The House speaker, for example, automatically gets ornate real estate.

But seniority determines the rest.

Incumbents, regardless of party, get first pick. Freshman lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, receive the leftovers.

Two of the four U.S. House members from Arkansas changed addresses this week.

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs moved up a floor in the 110-year-old Cannon House Office Building, switching from Room 130 to Room 209.

The second-floor space, newly renovated, smells like new carpet and fresh paint.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock relocated to Room 1533 in the Longworth House Office Building, three stories above Room 1229, the space he had previously occupied.

Architect of the Capitol employees were hard at work in the Republican's office Friday morning, hanging Arkansas artwork on the walls.

"The rationale for the move was to get more space for our legislative and correspondents team," Hill said. "It's a productivity issue."

The extra 200 square feet in the legislative office will be put to good use, Hill added.

The 702,608-square-foot Longworth building, constructed in 1933, is an ideal location, he said.

The entire moving process went "seamlessly," he said. In roughly three hours, the furniture had been moved, the computers hooked up and the phones installed.

"My hat's off to the Architect of the Capitol and their team for their effectiveness and courtesy in the process," he added.

For Westerman, a move -- sooner or later -- would've been unavoidable. His old space will be emptied in a couple of years, part of a decade-long, $753 million renovation.

The 826,465-square-foot Cannon House, the oldest of the House office buildings, is undergoing a "top-to-bottom renewal," according to the Architect of the Capitol's website.

The changes were needed to address "serious safety, health, environmental and operational issues that are rapidly worsening," the website stated.

Westerman's chief of staff, Vivian Moeglein, said the old space is about the same size as the new space and will be easy for visitors to find.

"It's fantastic as far as being centrally located for constituents," she said. "You're right off the Metro" -- Washington's subway system -- "and still just across the street from the Library of Congress and the Capitol."

There's no gridlock in the moving business, at least on Capitol Hill: the crews can empty an office in a single morning, congressional staff members said.

Most of Westerman's staff members worked elsewhere Friday morning so they wouldn't get in the way.

"The rest of the staff will show up this afternoon [and] unpack [the] boxes while they're getting computers set up, phones hooked back up, and all of that," Moeglein said. "Hopefully, we'll be ready to rock and roll Monday."

Moeglein showed up shortly after sunrise, bearing two dozen doughnuts from a Maryland bakery.

"You want them to have a good start for the morning," she explained.

Photo by Frank E. Lockwood
Federal employee Randy Windsor on Friday hangs artwork by the late Arkansas watercolorist Elsie Bates Freund in the new Washington office of U.S. Rep. French Hill.

Metro on 12/15/2018

Print Headline: Hill, Westerman get new D.C. office digs; both moving on up to loftier spaces

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  • GeneralMac
    December 15, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.

    Glad to see French Hill "moving up ".

    He did it the old fashioned way........" he earned it"

    ( in my best Smith-Barney imitation )

  • Jfish
    December 15, 2018 at 11:01 a.m.

    Do congress people and their employees sit in cubicles without walls like most other taxpayer funded employees? You are right Gmac, with the help of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and taxpayers casting their votes.

  • PopMom
    December 15, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

    Yes, General Mac, he earned it by saying that he favored protecting those with preexisting conditions when he in fact voted against them. On Christmas, he will go to mass and pray to Jesus that refugee with brown skin who was born in a manger, and then he will go back to Congress and continue to vote against the interests of poor refugees with brown skin and never think to consider the irony.

  • TuckerMax
    December 15, 2018 at 11:36 a.m.

    One really can't say "he earned it." I can't think of a thing he did to earn it other than have (R-AR2) after his name. In a way, he's like Trump: "I did it with only one million from dad, and I paid him back." It was $400M and he didn't pay it back. He couldn't because he was always insolvent until the money started rolling in in violation of the Emoluments Clause. Drain the swamp! [They are the swamp, but Republicans remain in public denial. In private they admit what's happening, but they'll never publicly admit it. At least Hill isn't on House Judiciary for the s***storm that's coming. If he were, we'd really know his lack of character.] What you going to do now to protect pre-existing conditions that you lied about wanting to protect, Rep. Hill? Not a thing. It was all a lie.

  • GeneralMac
    December 15, 2018 at 12:38 p.m.

    So glad the election went the way it did.

    It would have been sickening listening to Clarke "Weasel" Tucker and reading about him wetting his pants for joy as Nancy Pelosi becomes House Speaker.

    Clarke Tucker/Nancy Pelosi

  • mrcharles
    December 15, 2018 at 2:39 p.m.

    they are doing for the children, puppies, kittens, jesus, good manners, and of course for constituents of the type who have , but must have more . Easy access to them is of course required, as expensive car drivers cannot be inconvenienced.

    as to frenchie, glad he can now protect social security , medicare and pre existing conditions, a top priority for gop repugnants. Yes , sir that and selling that beach front property here in central arkansas will be welcomed by all.

    Whether he will give his knee pads used for lobbyist to DT for use with putin, remains to be seen.

    popmon, the baby jesus lovers often have a left right brain, the left crys crocidill tears for baby jesus, and the right side in the southern heritage tradition is not so sure about non white being human beings deserving of humanity type treatment, though we know many of the elites back in the good old days , in spite of the good book injunction , in dealing with less than human slaves, did do such violations that required "both participants" to be killed.

    at a big dinner, who do you think frenchie invites? certainly not the ones his party disdains, of course he has a blind spot so he wont read that being wrong in an ancient book [even by the one sent to do his father's will as he cant do nothing without the father's help] used by his kind to seem whole, but actually as whole, they are culo.

    after all meg said jesus was white and mericans who watch fox , you wont find a disagreement, not even a mouse.

    What is it like frenchie to make a living by lying to senior citizens?

  • mozarky2
    December 15, 2018 at 4:31 p.m.

    mrschurlish asks:
    "What is it like frenchie to make a living by lying to senior citizens"?
    The absolute master of this tactic was the execrable dimocrat David Pryor. Scaring the bejabbers out of old people over Medicare and Social Security. A real POS.