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America’s most powerful “powder room”

Behind an unmarked door in the U.S. Capitol, camouflaged by the opulent marble figures in Statuary Hall, lies a special space unknown to most passersby. After tapping a secret code into a security keypad, the door opens into a small reception area and a suite of rooms exclusively for the use of women members of the United States House of Representatives.

In the U.S. Congress -- the original old boys' club -- the Lindy Boggs Reading Room provides women lawmakers with their own private retreat from the rest of the Capitol. It is a welcome respite for the growing ranks serving in the people’s house.

"The room has quite a rich history,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. “The men have a big enough room in which to chat. It's called Congress. We just have the Lindy Boggs."

The Reading Room is the only bipartisan meeting space in the Capitol building dedicated to women members. During the day, Democratic and Republican members sit together watching the floor debate on C-SPAN and incessantly checking the latest emails on their iPhones. They review legislation that will be discussed in upcoming committee meetings on their iPads, or print something out on the ancient computer in the hall adjacent to the Reading Room. Copies of all the day’s national newspapers and the Capitol Hill gossip rags are placed on coffee tables in the Reading Room and in the entryway for members’ perusal.

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