Day 818: Visiting the Capitol

Today we drove into DC to visit the Capitol.  Getting into the parking garage was dicey:


“I’d love to work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics”, said no-one ever:


Behold, the Capitol:


We wanted to visit the Senate and House galleries, but we were told we had to get tickets from our senator’s office.  On the way there, we passed the Supreme Court building:


Our senator’s office building:



We received the tickets, and chatted briefly with these guys about how we’re South Dakota residents, but don’t actually live there:


We visited the Senate gallery, where we listened to our senator, John Thune of South Dakota, speak in support of a bill opposing a proposed EPA rule to give the EPA control over many more bodies of water.  The bill is S.J.Res.22 – A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

We then went on a tour of the Capitol.  The interior of the dome is under repair, but the 4,664 square foot fresco 180 feet above the floor, The Apotheosis of Washington, was still visible:





We also toured the room which contains the National Statuary Hall Collection:





Next we visited the House of Representatives gallery.  The only congressperson we recognized on the floor was Nancy Pelosi

We witnessed a number of votes related to H. Res. 507 — “Providing for consideration of the Senate amendments to the bill (H.R. 22) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being taken into account for purposes of determining the employers to which the employer mandate applies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; providing for proceedings during the period from November 6, 2015, through November 13, 2015; and providing for consideration of motions to suspend the rules.”

We also witnessed the unanimous passage of H. Res. 354 — “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the safety and security of Jewish communities in Europe.”

Cameras are not allowed in the galleries, but it looked something like this:


We next returned to the Senate gallery where saw a number of senators we recognized, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.  The highlight of the visit was listening to freshman Nebraska senator Ben Sasse’s first speech on the floor.  It was profound and moving, but I didn’t think it would make the news.  I was surprised to find analysis at Washington Times, NPR, and The Atlantic.  The text of the speech is here, and the video of the speech is below:

We next visited the visitor center in the Capitol building:


A full-scale model of the statue atop the Capitol dome, FreedomShe looks good considering she weighs 15,000 pounds:


The Capitol at sunset:



Across the way we could see the Library of Congress, the second-largest library by collection size in the world. The Library’s holdings include:

  • 32 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages
  • more than 61 million manuscripts
  • the largest rare book collection in North America, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and one of only three perfect vellum copies of the a Gutenberg Bible known to exist
  • over 1 million U.S. government publications
  • 1 million issues of world newspapers spanning the past three centuries
  • 33,000 bound newspaper volumes
  • 500,000 microfilm reels
  • 5.3 million maps
  • 6 million works of sheet music
  • 3 million sound recordings
  • more than 14.7 million prints and photographic images


We headed back to the RV for the night.  There’s so much more to see here in DC, but I think we’re going to move on tomorrow.

Day 817: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Frederick Douglas NHS, Anacostia Park, Oxon Cove Park, Fort Washington Park
Why? This is why.

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