Historic: A traffic jam in Senate ladies’ room

Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren and Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.
Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren and Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

As problems go, this is a good one to have: after last week’s election, a record 20 women will serve in the U.S. Senate–where the ladies’ restroom has only two stalls. At the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar told the audience, “For the first time, there was a traffic jam in the Senate women’s bathroom. There were five of us in there, and there are only two stalls.”

She tweeted the event:

New senators here. W/ 20 women we had our first-ever in U.S. history traffic jam in women senators’ restroom. #somerecordsmustbebroken

— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) November 14, 2012

The Minnesota Senator added, “It’s wonderful. There has been a group of us, 17, that has dinner every other month in the Strom Thurmond room, which is kind of funny.”

Senator Klobuchar wasn’t the only one who’s been dealing with multiple run-ins in the ladies’ room. Senator Claire McCaskill first met newly elected Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, who are in town for orientation this week, in the women’s bathroom. She tweeted about her encounter on Thursday.

Too funny. First power meeting with E Warren and D Fischer? In the Senators Only Women’s bathroom. Gonna need a bigger bathroom.

— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) November 14, 2012

The number of women’s bathrooms on Capitol Hill has been an issue before, with the relocation of a ladies room off the floor of the House built last year. Speaker Boehner received praise from both parties when he installed a ladies’ restroom off the floor of the House, despite some criticism. Before last year, female members would have to trek out of the House chambers and dodge the tourists in Statuary Hall to get to their bathroom in the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Reading Room, a five-minute walk away. According to Eva Malecki, the Capitol architect’s spokesperson, there are now two Member restrooms on both the House and Senate sides of the Capitol: one men’s room and one ladies’ room.

Despite their recent gains, women are still just 20% of the Senate. There’s time to plan for an expansion.