July 20, 2003

Senate moves to end looting

The U.S. Senate Rules Committee moved closer on Tuesday to issuing this warning to lawmakers: Do not remove from the U.S. Capitol furniture, paintings and other historic items.

"We are not supposed to steal from the Capitol," Sen. Don Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican, said wryly after the panel sent the proposed rule to the full Senate for consideration. "We're not supposed to, but it has been a regular practice over about 150 years," replied Chairman Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican.

Senate aides explained that lawmakers often manage to take home a piece of furniture for a discounted price after it has been declared surplus. Other times, items just seem to disappear.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, proposed the new rule that specifically tells lawmakers and others they may not remove any art and other listed historical items.

From Reuters, via Yahoo. The rule was approved on June 27. An editorial in the August Maine Antique Digest (not available online, at least not yet) noted that under the old rules, senators could buy furniture from their offices at 30% of the original purchase price, enabling Jesse Helms to take home a mahogany desk commissioned in 1910 for something under $25. But as Trent Lott stated, "much of the good stuff is already gone."

Posted by David on July 20, 2003 10:01 PM

Comments

> enabling Jesse Helms to take home a mahogany desk commissioned in 1910 for something under $25

On the other hand, it was commissioned for him....

Posted by: Andy Freeman on July 20, 2003 11:04 PM

Andy - I think you are confusing Jesse with Strom Thurmond...

Posted by: jon ravin on July 21, 2003 7:31 AM
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