The World

They’re all right, Jack; how about you?

WILLIAM LOWTHER September 4 1978
The World

They’re all right, Jack; how about you?

WILLIAM LOWTHER September 4 1978

They’re all right, Jack; how about you?

It is known as the most exclusive club in the world. And now the United States Senate has

decided to add a little to its "facilities.” The additions will probably cost about $200 million when they are finished, the whole adding

up to the most expensive federal building ever.

Officially it is a third Senate office complex, but it will have 16-foot office ceilings a $500,000 gymnasium; a "senators only" rooftop restaurant; interior marble facings costing $3 million; and a luxurious "hearings room” costing $1.5 million where the politicians can be televised as they work. The Senate already has two other private gymna-

Isiums, a restaurant and “hair styling salon.”

True, there is a small hitch. In an unprecedented move, the House of Representatives has voted to hold up the funds for a month. During that time Congressmen will be back home preaching to the taxpayers about saving cash. But it's a sure shot that they will find a way to reverse themselves this fall. ] The House dare not upset the Senate too much. There are too many avenues for revenge.

This extraordinary splurge on creature comforts coincides with the United States’ worst bout of inflation ever; a clamor for tax cuts; and a decision by Congress to knock $1.1 billion from the Foreign Aid Bill—money that would have gone to help feed the starving abroad. Senators have also been

lopping lumps off programs to help the poor at home.

One official explanation is that the complex is needed not so much for the senators as for their staffs. But as the Washington Star pointed out: “That leads to the question why they require such enormous entourages. They are presently attended by over 6,000 trainbearers, typists, ghost writers, guards, pages, coat-holders, hand-holders, “yes” men, drivers, hairdressers, scribes, stenographers, door-openers and, of course, architects who plot ceaselessly to build them more stately mansions for their souls.”

There has been one move, led by Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, to have the building stopped. But it was easily defeated by a vote of 45 to 29. The big guns are on the side of Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers. Answering the critics, he said: “I’m not redhot on all these fancy places. But I like the life we have now. I don’t like the good old days. I worked in a canning factory for 10 cents an hour 60 hours a week. They were not the good old days for people like me.” With that kind of logic the "club's” new club is bound to go ahead unhindered.

WILLIAM LOWTHER