Those strolling the corridors of, say, the Hart Senate Office Building passed door after door plastered with sheets of paper printed with some variation on “Sorry, our offices are closed.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois both posted closure notices. Stacks of newspapers and magazines from shutdown week sat unread outside the Democratic Steering Committee’s door Friday morning, below a sign telling passers-by the office would not be open.
House leadership offices have also trimmed back. Speaker John A. Boehner’s office confirmed that about half of the Ohioan’s staff had been furloughed. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s office is operating at 65 percent of capacity, according to Communications Director Erica Elliott.
Democratic Sen. Mark Udall declared his staff essential for the purpose of serving the needs of Colorado flood victims. With no mail to sort or committees to prepare for, “we’re allowed to focus almost exclusively on flood recovery,” Press Secretary James Owens said, noting that other office functions had been reduced.
“It’s been pretty much all-consuming,” Owens said. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck moment in Colorado, and by extension here.”
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s office has been functioning with about 40 percent of its staff, and Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill furloughed all but five members of her 51-person team.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., decided her city required full services because of the numbers of furloughed government workers. She vowed not to “abandon our constituents.”
Sens. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., and a few House members caught some positive press by manning their office phones themselves.
Those phoning the offices of Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, got this message: “We will be unable to respond to your message until funding is restored.”
Many press secretaries told CQ Roll Call they were taking it all day by day.
Allison Teixeira, press secretary for freshman California Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, said, “Literally, at the end of the day, we send an email to say who is coming in the next day.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.