Halfway through a congressional session already set apart by extraordinary chaos and a lack of productivity, the Republican-led House rang in the new year with a new set of identification pins for every member that cost a cool $40,000, according to a congressional aide familiar with the purchase.
At the start of every new Congress, each member of the House is issued a circular pin that identifies them as a lawmaker, signaling to security officials on Capitol Hill that they are permitted to enter restricted spaces, including the House floor. The background color and the number of the congressional session changes every two years, but the design rarely does; it bears the Great Seal of the United States, an eagle with outstretched wings bearing an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other.
But on Wednesday, during Congress’s first working week of the year, members lined up in the speaker’s lobby outside the House chamber to retire their bright green pins for new navy-and-gold ones.
Representative Sean Casten, Democrat of Illinois, took to social media to offer an explanation for the new accessories.
“Today we’re getting a new pin, half way through the term because the @HouseGOP didn’t like the color,” he wrote on social media.
A spokesman for Speaker Mike Johnson did not immediately provide further explanation in response to a request for comment.
The purchase came as most House Republicans continue to bemoan what they argue is excessive federal spending, with hard-liners threatening to shut down the government to insist on steeper cuts.
Mr. Johnson announced on Friday that he would stand by the spending deal he negotiated with Democrats to avert a partial shutdown next week as right-wing lawmakers fumed over the funding levels in the bipartisan agreement and pressured him to switch gears.
Lawmakers generally appeared pleased or ambivalent about the new pins.
Representative Rudy Yakym III, Republican of Indiana, told a reporter for NOTUS that the replacement was a welcome upgrade from the green one, while former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, expressed confusion about why the pins had been swapped out.
Semafor, which previously reported the cost of the new pins, said that some congresswomen had complained that the bale on the old pins was too small and did not fit on thicker chains. While most members wear the accessory on their lapels, some wear them around their necks as a pendant.