Anyone who has experienced the unbearable closeness of voting in the House of Representatives knows it’s a health hazard, even under normal conditions. As soon as bells buzz across the Capitol, 435 House members, on a good day, (plus delegates) race to the floor. The fastest option — the “members only” elevators — each comfortably holds eight people. Ten, if you squeeze. During a vote, members pack in close enough to sense what their colleagues ate for lunch. These are extroverted pols who can’t help but take advantage of a confined space to tell jokes and laugh loudly.
When the elevators reach G-3, in the basement of the House Office Buildings, an open-air trolley whisks members to the Capitol building. Each car comfortably accommodates four — during a vote, it’s usually six, sometimes more. It makes the New York City subway system seem civilized.
Then members crowd into yet another elevator that lifts them to the House chamber, where they scramble into narrow rows and aisles, sometimes stepping over each other’s legs to squeeze in. Small groups of friends and allies huddle in the aisles and corner seats.