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Federal Employees Are No Longer Allowed to Sleep in Their Offices. The Rule Does Not Apply to Members of Congress

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A bulletin published Tuesday in the Federal Register contains bad news for sleepy government employees:

This bulletin reaffirms that sleeping in buildings under the jurisdiction, custody or control of GSA, including those buildings delegated to other Federal agencies by the Administrator of General Services, is prohibited, except when expressly authorized by an agency official. Sleeping may be authorized if the person is directed by a supervisor to remain in the building to conduct official government business and it is necessary for the person to sleep on the premises or, in the case of an emergency where there is imminent danger to human life or property, where persons are directed to shelter-in-place.

Hmm, does this mean that members of Congress are no longer allowed to sleep in their offices? Nope. Officials from both the General Services Administration and the Architect of the Capitol, which manages the buildings on the Capitol campus, tell Washingtonian  this regulation does not apply to the legislative branch.

The practice of sleeping on the Capitol campus became more mainstream under Republican control of the House, and while Democrats said they’d crack down on it, it’s not clear how much has changed. US Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that he’d heard as many as 80 people in the previous Congress slept in their offices; a spokesperson for Pocan tells Washingtonian his office doesn’t know the current number of people who bunk on Capitol Hill. (Congress’ most famous office-sleeper, Paul Ryan, recently moved back to the DC area after spending years claiming he didn’t live here.)

So apologies to anyone who lives in fear of seeing their representative toddle down a hallway in his pajamas or who considers the practice of living in one’s office “nasty“—while your average fed is forbidden to snooze in their workplace, members of Congress may continue to do so.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.