Freshman Members anticipating graduation are taking advantage of a coveted perk of being a sophomore ‘ better seats in the House Gallery.
Every Member has an assigned seat for a spouse or guest to use for ticketed events, such as the State of the Union address or joint sessions of Congress. The seats are given out by seniority, with freshmen relegated to the back, adjacent to the Press Gallery, where they can’t see the face of the Speaker.
But each year since House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood’s 1995 appointment, his office has allowed Members coming up on their second term to request a better seat, said Bill Sims, director of chamber security.
‘There are two types of seats, good and bad. We really don’t have any skyboxes or anything like that,’ said Sims, who handles the requests. ‘When a first-term Member comes on, they usually have seats right at the back, so they don’t have a view.’
Sims said he works with Members to get the best possible seats based on what’s available.
‘Often cases, you do have Members that these tickets go to their spouses, and they’re very interested in where they sit,’ he said. ‘Generally speaking, the most senior Members have seats that over the years they haven’t changed because they’re good seats.’
Those Members can usually be found near the White House seats or the Speaker’s box.
But the arrangements work differently in the Senate.
The Office of the House Sergeant-at-Arms gives 100 tickets to the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, which then assigns seats based on seniority without letting Members request better arrangements, said Becky Daugherty, a spokeswoman for Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer.
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