Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is not what you’d consider to be a “compassionate conservative,” particularly not after having shouted at a House staffer when that staffer made the egregious error of daring to ride between floors on an elevator reserved for House members.
“Can you read?” Foxx was heard to demand loudly as she pointed to the signs that declared “Members of Congress Only.”
According to Political Wire, the staffer tried to enlighten Foxx by pointing out the accompanying sign that clarified “during votes,” (meaning anyone could ride the elevators as long as House members didn’t need them in order to rush to a vote), but Foxx only replied by yelling, “Members only!” and demanding the staffer vacate the elevator immediately.
Surprisingly (or perhaps not so much), this isn’t the first congressional elevator incident. Remember Republican House member Melissa Hart, who represented Pennsylvania’s 4th congressional district from 2001-2007? As a freshman, Ms. Hart admonished a black woman for riding on the House’s “members-only” elevator. Unfortunately, that black woman happened to be a member herself, the late Julia Carson (D-IN), who replied, “So what’s your point?”
According to New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich, in his 2006 article “Who let the riffraff into the senators-only elevator?” Republican congressional members have a history of bad elevator etiquette; Ted Stevens (R-AL) was known “for hostile glares (or grumbles)” when having to ride the elevator with a non-member (to be fair, Robert Byrd (D-WV) was known to do the same.
Additionally, the same article reports that in 1994, Republican Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina purportedly groped freshman Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in an elevator.
And of course, who could forget George W. Bush’s glowing and well-thought endorsement of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “I’m for Mitt Romney,” he said brusquely just as the elevator doors closed on reporters.
Thankfully, outgoing Congressman Dan Boren (D-OK) leaves us with a lighter view of congressional elevators. In an exit interview with Cloture Club, Boren ruminated on the five things he wanted to do before leaving Congress, and one of them happened to be punching all the floor buttons on the House elevator during a vote. And in a moment of hilarity, he did.
Perhaps Boren’s prank made Foxx late for voting that day, and she still hasn’t gotten over it.