The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Joe Straus, rarely leaves his office when the Legislature is in session. Located on the west side of the Capitol, the 51-year-old’s work space has an adjacent apartment and conference room. “I work, sleep, and eat here,” says Straus. “I need to get out more.” When he does get out, it’s to spend weekends at home, in San Antonio, with his wife, Julie, and their two daughters. Deep into his second term as Speaker, this fifth-generation Texan is working overtime dealing with budget shortfalls and trying to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans. The day’s order of business varies slightly, but meeting with constituents and gathering his notes for the daily House sessions he presides over are always on the agenda.

About the Items in Joe Straus’s Desk

• My girls made that for me in 2005, when I was sworn in to the House.

• That’s a Christmas card outtake from last year. The girls were making fun of their mother.

• This is a verse from Psalms and a Kipling poem that Louis Zbinden gave to me when I was sworn in earlier this year. It is a longtime favorite that reminds me to stay calm, focused, and humble.

• My mother, Joci, grew up on Paleface Ranch, her family’s ranch just outside San Antonio.

• The members think I use this when they see the decisions I make.

• I have a habit of fiddling with a pen. I like the weight, width, and price of this one.

• I get my e-mail on it, watch Meet the Press. And now that the San Antonio Express-News has stopped daily delivery in Austin, I read it on my iPad.

• This was inspired by Wyoming senator Alan Simpson. It has to do with his life as an appropriator. I’ll leave it at that.

• The Wall Street Journal has been my daily paper for more than twenty years. I especially like the editorial page.

• People think I use these to have some privacy. But I use them to do business and be accessible to members—I’m on the phone constantly.


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