In the course of explaining the inner-workings of the U.S. House today, Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver told a group of young people that certain groups of people tend to stick together.
Even on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cleaver, a Democrat, told the "We the People” Congressional Boot Camp that -- unlike the Senate -- there are no assigned seats in the House.
So conservative Blue Dog Democrats always sit in the back near the House entrance. Hispanics stand in the back. African American lawmakers sit up front.
Democrats tend to be on the chamber's left side (makes sense), while Republicans move rightward.
A minister, Cleaver pointed out that the same "birds of a feather" tendencies can be found in churches all over the country.
Senior members, such as Don Young of Alaska and John Dingell of Michgan, always sit in the same place, and if another member happens to sit in one of their seats, they tend to move quickly when either Young or Dingell approaches.
'You do not sit in John Dingell's seat," Cleaver said.
The former KC mayor, who spoke to the group with Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder of Kansas, described himself as a "roamer" who moves about the chamber.
He said 56 members sleep in their offices as a way to save money. Even though members earn $174,000 a year, they are not paid anything extra to cover living expenses. Many members have to finance two households.
No lunch hours are ever scheduled, meaning that members regularly eat on the run. "That creates an unhealthy environment, frankly," Cleaver said.
The House's "toxic atmosphere," due to the extreme partisanship, doesn't help.