Next House speaker Boehner ready to one-up predecessor

Perhaps it was a way of needling Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, but Republican John Boehner, who is not even speaker yet, plans to do what Democrats could not do in the four years they controlled the House: He will order construction of a women’s restroom just off the House floor.

The triumphant Republicans omitted the fact, as they are increasingly wont to do, that their own party failed to bring gender equity to the congressional toilets in the 12 years they controlled the House before Pelosi.

In truth, Congress has a dismal record in this regard. The first female House member — a Republican pacifist, by the way — was elected 93 years ago. Only now are lawmakers getting around to rectifying an easily foreseeable need. With 71 female House members in the next Congress, the need is not only foreseeable, but unavoidable.

Currently, female lawmakers who need to excuse themselves must leave the House chamber and traverse the tourist-thronged Statuary Hall to the Lindy Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room — a walk of 50 yards, according to one chronicler.

The fact that Boggs, a popular and skilled legislator from Louisiana, could not get a more convenient ladies’ room built during her 18 years in Congress is perhaps testament to the problem’s obduracy. The Senate, the more tradition-bound of the two institutions, installed a ladies’ room adjacent to the floor in 1993.

Getting the women’s loo built will be something of a test of Boehner’s administrative skills. The last major Capitol construction project, the Visitor Center, was four years late and 57 percent over budget, but the House had the Senate helping it.

Female lawmakers will be accommodated by appropriating the House parliamentarian’s office, conveniently located close to the floor in case the chair needs a quick ruling. But as one seasoned analyst noted, Boehner is probably intent on making up his own rules.

Dale McFeatters is an editorial writer for Scripps Howard News Service.


Op Edsop-edOpinionSan FranciscoSenate

Just Posted

Dominion Voting Systems, a Denver-based vendor, is under contract to supply voting machines for elections in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/Examiner file)
Is San Francisco’s elections director impeding voting machine progress?

Open source technology could break up existing monopoly

The 49ers take on the Packers in Week 3 of the NFL season, before heading into a tough stretch of divisional opponents. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
‘Good for Ball’ or ‘Bad for Ball’ — A Niners analysis

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner What’s the first thing that… Continue reading

Health experts praised Salesforce for keeping its Dreamforce conference at Moscone Center outdoors and on a small scale. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Happy birthday, Marc Benioff. Your company did the right thing

Salesforce kept Dreamforce small, which made all kinds of sense

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, pictured with Rose Pak in 2014, says the late Chinatown activist was “helping to guide the community away from the divisions, politically.”
Willie and Rose: How an alliance for the ages shaped SF

How the Mayor and Chinatown activist shaped San Francisco, then and now

The Grove in Golden Gate Park is maintained largely by those who remember San Francisco’s 20,000 AIDS victims.<ins> (Open Eye Pictures/New York Times)</ins>
Looking at COVID through the SF prism of AIDS

AIDS took 40 years to claim 700,000 lives. COVID surpassed that number in 21 months

Most Read