Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Segregation on Capitol Hill: Democrats and Republicans kept apart from the start

Newly-elected Democratic Congressman Raul Ruiz has made a few Republican friends during orientation in D.C., but he won't name them because cross-party fraternization is frowned upon.

This week, California’s 14 freshman members of Congress are back in Washington for a second week of orientation. But much of the training is segregated, with Democrats on one side of Capitol Hill and Republicans on another.

During morning sessions, the newbies all learn about setting up a website, how to send constituent mail, how to staff an office. But from lunchtime until late into the evening, Democrats and Republicans are separated. 

Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa of Redding says, during afternoons with his GOP colleagues, he's witnessed the "hot debate" about conference rules and amendments. "They didn’t take very long to get the verbosity up here," he observed.

Even the meals are segregated.  Speaker John Boehner’s fancy dinner for newcomers in Statuary Hall was GOP only; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held her own party for Democratic freshmen.

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