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A big question on Day One of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings: Where’s lunch?

As senators held forth, dining options were sparse on Capitol Hill

Thanks to a federal holiday, things were relatively quiet in the Capitol complex as Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett appeared on Monday. That did leave lunch-seekers in a bit of a bind.
Thanks to a federal holiday, things were relatively quiet in the Capitol complex as Supreme Court justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett appeared on Monday. That did leave lunch-seekers in a bit of a bind. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As media, staff and lawmakers descended on the Hart Senate Office Building for the first day of confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, there was a slow realization that coffee and lunch would be hard to come by.

“I found coffee,” a photographer announced with pride just before the hearing began. 

Many of the dining options in the Capitol complex have been running either limited hours or have closed completely during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the federal Columbus Day holiday and the District of Columbia’s Indigenous Peoples Day holiday meant that any usual business was suspended. That left just one option available for hungry Capitol Police officers, reporters and staffers.

Inside Scoop, a frozen yogurt joint tucked in the Dirksen basement, offered pre-made sandwiches, coffee and chips all for self-checkout. No frozen yogurt was available.

Capitol Police officers stationed around the corner had already directed a few confused and caffeine-starved people in the right direction by 11 a.m. They appreciated a warning from Heard on the Hill that the hearing would break shortly for lunch and that there might be a parade of hungry people looking for the only option on campus.

Food has managed to steal the show during other high-profile hearings on the Hill, like when an unwitting young pizza lover got caught shoving cheese into his mouth as Michael Cohen was testifying last year. Scarfing some &pizza outside the House hearing room where the president’s former fixer was appearing, he got caught in the background of a live cable news shot, earning internet fame and the nickname “pizza intern.” (Turns out he was a college student visiting for the day, not an intern, but the moniker stuck, lingering like the panic in his eyes as he realized the cameras were rolling on his hungry encounter.)

Or who could forget the epic chug of coffee executed by then-McClatchy congressional reporter Emma Dumain during the impeachment hearings in November? Seated in plain sight behind a witness, she tilted back her head close to 90 degrees. “It was a really tall, narrow cup, and I was really trying to get the very last drops,” she told Slate last fall. The moment became a meme.

Not this time. With many food options off the menu Monday and fewer people around, lunch (or even coffee) could hardly be that satisfying.

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