Congressmen Reap Benefits Amid Shutdown - NBC4 Washington
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Congressmen Reap Benefits Amid Shutdown

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    Congressmen Reap Benefits Amid Shutdown

    While thousands of government workers are furloughed, News4 I-Team has learned Congressmen are not only receiving salaries, but are enjoying many perks that come with their jobs. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013)

    While thousands of government workers are furloughed, Congressmen are not only receiving salaries, but are enjoying many perks that come with their jobs. 

    Members of Congress get a $174,000 annual salary and benefits, which they will receive during the shutdown.

    An underground subway that saves members of Congress the hike between their office and the U.S. House floor is still running, the News4 I-Team confirmed.

    Congress' in-house physician is still on the job, as are the staff at the privately-run cafeterias, banks and idependently-operated Post Office at which members of Congress can grab a meal, cash a check or buy stamps within a short walk from their offices. 

    Members of Congress will also have access to approximately 180 free parking spots at Dulles International Airport and the Reagan National Airport, a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesperson told the News4 I-Team. 

    The House recording studio, where members of Congress use tax money to help pay for the recording of cable TV shows for viewers in their districts, is also open. The Franking Commission, which reviews mass mailings and newsletters members of Congress send back home at taxpayer expense, is still running.

    A House Administration Committee spokesperson said both the recording studio and the Franking Commission allow members of Congress to communicate with constituents.

    David Williams with Alexandria-based Taxpaers Protection Alliance says these are "perks and benefits" that help congressmen get re-elected.

    "When you talk about a recording studio, when you talk about mailing privileges .... this is about getting re-elected," Williams said.

    Some operations, including the shoe-shine, barber and the House locksmith have shuttered operations during the shutdown. On last check Tuesday, elevator attendants were not on duty.

    Also missing are some political aides and office staffers.

    "Congressional staff are type-A personalities," former Senate staffer Brad Fitch, who worked through the last government shutdown, told News4. "They love their jobs, they don't do it for the pay. It's very hard to have to be told, 'You have to go home, you're not essential.'"

    Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are donating their salaries during the shutdown to charities.

    A spokesperson said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is keeping all staff on duty and has changed to electronic newsletter mailings to save money.