Rep. Carolyn Maloney sits on powerful financial committees in the House of Representatives. But in another house, a three-story town home just blocks away, she wields power as landlord to a pair of fellow lawmakers.
“It's a sisterhood, for sure," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of the two women who share Maloney's home on Capitol Hill.
Congressional lawmakers are frequently seeking an affordable place to crash while serving in Washington, away from their homes and district offices. That's why it made sense for Maloney, a New York Democrat, to rent out the bedrooms of her Washington home to fellow lawmakers in need, Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama.
"When I was first elected, I lived alone. I had an apartment then," said Maloney, who has spent more than two decades in office. "I was used to a husband and two children, and a cat, and pandemonium, chaos at home. So I decided to buy a house and fill it up with friends, which is exactly what I did."
Wasserman Schultz, who also chairs the Democratic National Committee, said it's a tremendous luxury to come home at night to friends who have spent just as many long hours in Congress as you have.
"When Carolyn lost her husband, when I went through breast cancer, you're coming home everyday, and people think of us as almost robotic, but we have real people's problems and it's been wonderful for us to have each other,” she said.
The living arrangement has been compared to a similar, albeit slightly more disheveled gathering of their three male counterparts: Rep. George Miller of California, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois. The Amazon online series, "Alpha House," was loosely based on the congressional crash pad that the three men have shared for dozens of years.
Maloney stressed there aren't many other similarities the two homes share.
“They’re the Alpha House, we're the Zeta House,” she said. “They’re tequila, we're more green tea."
While the ladies living with Maloney may be Democrats, the New York congresswoman admitted she helped loosen the party stronghold after renting out her basement apartment — to a Republican.
"I don't know who he is,” Wasserman Schultz admitted, although “I've seen the back of his head."