WASHINGTON – Among the thousands of visitors touring the U.S. Capitol building on a sweltering Saturday, Rich Krzysik and his family stopped for a few minutes to watch the House of Representatives engage in its routine business.
Except things were anything but routine.
The Hinsdale, Ill., family wound up watching as the Republican-run House, in a largely party-line vote, struck down a version of the debt limit plan offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
“We got lucky,” Krzysik said about witnessing a key moment in the historic debate over raising the federal debt ceiling.
Typically, visitors to the Capitol tour the building, gaze at the statues and soak in the history. Some days, though, they see it made. And the process on Saturday didn’t seem nearly as elegant as the building that houses it.
Interviews with tourists from around the nation – among the 16 million who visit the nation’s capital each year – revealed awe at the institution but dismay at the politicians inside bickering over the debt limit.
Richard Lafferty, of Allentown, Pa., said that his family was watching the debate closely because failure to reach a deal could affect their personal financial situation.
“I think it’s very bad they’re waiting till the last minute to compromise,” said Lafferty, a computer salesman. “I think they’re all too motivated for their own personal political views as opposed to for the greater good of the country.”