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Some Congressmen Find Replacements Among Colleagues : Tight Schedule Squeezes Out Old Friends

November 08, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In the whirlwind chaos of a congressional career, many things fall by the wayside--among them keeping up with old friends who don't care if there's a "Rep." or a 'Sen." in front of your name.

"You want to be able to have dinner with them, invite them over to your house. But you have about a dozen nights all year free," said Rep. Tom Tauke (R-Iowa). "It sounds so arrogant to say: 'Well, I have this one night in August--you can't do it? What about December?' "

Some congressmen are reconciled to a life of work and family. "You trade things off," said Rep. Michael DeWine (R-Ohio). "You understand you're not going to have much of a social life. I don't miss it."

Forming an Extended Family

One alternative is to cultivate congressional friends, an approach that is working well for four representatives who share a group house on Capitol Hill. The close-knit living group amounts to an extended family that serves as a social club, relief valve and debating society.

"We've created friendships. We've also created a support group," said Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), one of the quartet. "It allows a mechanism to release a lot of stress and tension that's created by the job and family responsibilities."

Can Dispense Advice

It's not unusual for group members to call each other's children to offer congratulations on getting into college or condolences on breaking a leg. They'll call a wife to tell her that her husband was great in committee that morning. They are aware of tensions, marital and otherwise, and aren't shy about dispensing advice.

Such intimacy is unusual among politicians.

"It's difficult for politicians to talk about these things unless they know people really well," said Miller. "In another setting, that could make you more vulnerable. You don't play all your cards face up in this business."

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