There have been no reports of toga parties at the legendary Capitol Hill residence, but the interior decor certainly echoes John Belushi bellowing “Food fight!”
Indeed, paint is peeling from the ancient walls…
Underwear is piled in the middle of the living room…
There’s a stove perhaps handed down from William Howard Taft’s administration with a huge hole on top…
A wicker chair on life support…
And the rodents. Don’t forget the rodents…
“Welcome to the Omega House,” Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, quipped to CNN.
Durbin shares the pad with two other prominent Democrats: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (who ranks just behind Durbin), and California Rep. George Miller, who’s the landlord.
“This is where I’ve lived for 31 years,” Schumer bragged to CNN. Durbin’s been there 21 years.
No telling why politicians, easily with the means to upgrade their living conditions while in town, would choose to crash in a place like this, but clearly they revel in the hilarity and camaraderie.
To wit: The new Amazon.com show, “Alpha House,” is loosely based on the trio’s D.C. lifestyle…all except for the politics: The show’s characters are Republicans.
It all started in the early ’80s when Miller’s family moved back to the California district he represents and he was living in the house alone. Then one night during a snowstorm, former Democratic Rep. Marty Russo of Illinois bunked there so he didn’t have to drive to the Capitol the next day, CNN reported, and simply stayed on. Then Schumer moved in.
According to CNN, ex-CIA Director and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lived there when he was in Congress.
While occupants may have been ever-changing, little else about the congressional frat house has been updated.
There’s the double horizontal stack of vinyl records with (who else?) Jackson Browne’s 1976 creation “The Pretender” right out in front.
“The same exact records are there now as the day I moved in, 1982, 31 years ago,” Schumer told CNN.
Durbin salvaged a couch from his son, who left it for garbage pick-up. “He put it out in the trash — it had to be 12, 14 years ago — and I said it’s better than anything we have. So we reclaimed it,” he said.
That’s nothing compared to the 46-year-old coffee table — the first piece of furniture Durbin and his wife bought after they got married.
“We’re not afraid of the burglars,” Miller confessed to CNN, “because we’ve been burgled twice and they took nothing.”
That’s a good thing for Schumer, who’s relegated to sleeping on a mattress next to the kitchen while Durbin and Miller get actual bedrooms upstairs. Besides, with a door just next to his makeshift bed with broken and bent blinds, he can easily spot intruders if they come around — and everything else.
“I can see the weather without having to get out of bed,” Schumer said. “It’s a special effect.”
And then, CNN noted, there’s the kitchen: A nonworking freezer and a refrigerator stocked only with beer cans and old food.
While the trio shares the living space, they’re rarely home at the same time. In fact, one of the aspects that makes their D.C. existence livable is that they’re only in town about three nights a week.
“We all have different schedules. We all have different interests. You can come back here. You can catch up with one another. You can catch up with the House and the Senate. We know one another’s families, so you know what the kids are doing. You know what the grandkids are doing,” Miller said.
Not that family members are itching to bunk in the run-down environs. “When my wife comes, she will not stay here,” Schumer noted.
Perhaps President Obama might fancy a night away from the White House — but if not, the fellas have a cardboard cutout of the commander-in-chief to keep them company:
One of the biggest perks is the house’s proximity to the Capitol, which is just blocks away: “I might add location, location, location,” Durbin said. “It is close to where we work. And it’s easy to get back and forth, and I think that has spoiled us.”
“We love it. It’s home.”
Here’s the hilarious report from CNN: