News & Politics

Meet the DC Reporter Who’s Tracking Senate Milk Consumption

CQ Roll Call's Joshua Eaton chronicles milk-drinking during Trump's impeachment trial.

Earlier this week, the public had a cow upon rediscovering a 1966 precedent allowing only water and milk on the Senate floor. Capitalizing on the legendairy moment, CQ Roll Call reporter Joshua Eaton started tracking senatorial milk consumption in a spreadsheet.

“People like to latch on to these little bits of color, especially in things that are really heavy, or divisive, or partisan,” Eaton says. “These little bits of levity in the news.”

The spreadsheet tracks more than who is drinking milk and the number of “confirmed glasses.” It also records snack pairings like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton‘s Hershey’s chocolate as well as miscellaneous notes, like a tweet from Ted Cruz‘s deputy chief of staff Sam Cooper, who revealed the Senate is a BYOM establishment.

Eaton decided to create the spreadsheet after scrolling through Twitter and seeing senators were actually drinking milk. As an investigative and data reporter, Eaton is an ardent lover of spreadsheets—he says he’s even thought about making spreadsheets for his spreadsheets. Because he isn’t reporting in the press galley, Eaton relies on a tailored Twitter advanced search to identify milk-spotting sources.

So far, only four Senators—three Republicans and one Democrat—have sipped their way into Eaton’s Google Drive. (Cotton drank two glasses.) There was some confusion over whether Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren was drinking yogurt or milk (perhaps Go-Gurt), but Eaton decided it passed the test. Surprisingly, no senators from Wisconsin have repped the dairyland drink.

As for Eaton, would he drink a glass of milk if he was on the Senate floor? “I’m lactose intolerant.”

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.