Kitty Felde |

Shining too bright a light on Congress

The Architect of the Capitol was busy over the summer recess, painting, repairing, finishing the remodel of the House Radio TV Gallery.  One other project was greening up the lighting in House hearing rooms.  He may have done too good a job.

In Wednesday's Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, Chairman James Oberstar of Minnesota gave witnesses and fellow Members permission to wear sunglasses.  The rest of the morning was spent turning on and off half the lights to reduce the glare. 

I actually thought it brightened up the place.  Most of those hearing rooms are overly stuffy, formal places with dark wood and navy rugs.  It feels gloomy.  The new lighting turned the ceiling into a virtual skylight. 

The Architect of the Capitol installed new CFL (next generation fluorescent) bulbs to make the House more energy efficient.  Also installed was a new ballast system that apparently responds to the amount of daylight coming into the room and lights it accordingly.  But according to a spokeswoman for the Architect, the difference in lighting may be the quality of those CFLs, which produce a purer, whiter light.

I can hardly wait to see Chairman Oberstar in his Ray-Bans.