Year after year, decade upon decade, the U.S. Senate's network of restaurants has lost staggering amounts of money -- more than $18 million since 1993, according to one report, and an estimated $2 million this year alone, according to another.
The financial condition of the world's most exclusive dining hall and its affiliated Capitol Hill restaurants, cafeterias and coffee shops has become so dire that, without a $250,000 subsidy from taxpayers, the Senate won't make payroll next month.
The Senate Restaurants, as the food service network is known, has a range of offerings, from the ornate Senate Dining Room on the first floor of the Capitol, where senators and their guests are served by staffers wearing jackets and ties, to the huge cafeteria in the Dirksen Building and various coffee shops throughout the Senate complex.
All told, they bring in more than $10 million a year in food sales but have turned a profit in just seven of their 44 years in business, according to the GAO.
Some Democrats in the Senate resisted the plan:
But Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), speaking for the group of senators who opposed privatizing the restaurants, said that "you cannot stand on the Senate floor and condemn the privatization of workers, and then turn around and privatize the workers here in the Senate and leave them out on their own."
Apparently it's the taxpayer's responsibility to subsidize Senate restaurant workers.
The House of Representatives has a food service operation as well. It "has been in private hands since the 1980s". And guess where everyone wants to eat?
...Come lunchtime, many Senate staffers trudge across the Capitol and down into the basement cafeteria on the House side. On Wednesdays, the lines can be 30 or 40 people long.
House staffers almost never cross the Capitol to eat in the Senate cafeterias.
And the two Democratic Senators who battled for the presidential nomination want to nationalize our health care. Maybe they figure brain surgery is easier than making a good Taco Salad.