All but 2 local members of Congress furloughing staff


by Joe Arnold

Posted on October 4, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 7 at 9:19 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- All but two members of Kentucky's congressional delegation have furloughed a significant portion of their staffs during the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Only U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-3rd District) and Thomas Massie (R-4th District) have maintained full staffs during the nearly one-week old impasse, according to a survey of congressional offices conducted by WHAS11.

U.S. Representative John Yarmuth

"Congressman Yarmuth is maintaining a full staff during the shutdown to continue providing services for constituents and help ensure that once federal government agencies return to business, Louisvillians are at the front of the line," said Stephen George, Yarmuth's Communications Director.

Members of Congress are allowed to designate employees as "essential," keep them on the job and reimburse them later. 

Though the salaries of members of Congress are unaffected by the shutdown, even the staff members who remain on the job do not receive pay, including several at Yarmuth's office in the Romano Mazzoli Federal Building in downtown Louisville.

"We've had a lot of our constituents contact us who have pending cases with the federal government," explained Carolyn Tandy, Yarmuth's District Director, "looking to see where they can actually go and get other resources or what is the status at this point given that the government is shut down."

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul

Despite U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's many media appearances, an e-mail to his press secretary was bounced back.

"Thank you for your message," reads the automatic message from Moira Bagley's Senate e-mail account.  "As of Oct. 1, 2013, I have been furloughed."

A Paul aide disclosed that Kentucky's junior senator has furloughed between two-thirds and three-quarters of his staff, yet some staff members could be rotated off furlough on an as-needed basis.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

"Unfortunately, the effects of this completely unnecessary shutdown will have a real impact on my constituents," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).  Both McConnell's Capitol and local offices are operating on reduced staff.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Second District) has furloughed nine members of his staff.

"A handful of people are working in the district and D.C. offices to field constituents' calls, answer questions about the shutdown and federal agencies, meet with constituents who are in Washington, and track legislative activity on the CR," Guthrie said.  "Like other federal employees, staff who are furloughed are not paid for the days they do not work unless Congressional action is taken to restore the pay retroactively."

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

In a "Frequently Asked Questions" posting on his House website, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-Sixth District) explained that his staff furloughs are required by the Anti-Deficiency Act, which prohibits incurrance of debt when there is no appropriations bill in effect.

"The House has been required to furlough staff and reduce significant operations," Barr wrote.  "As a result, my staff's traveling office hours have been temporarily suspended. In addition, tours of the U.S. Capitol, flying of flags above the Capitol and other services will be suspended for the duration of the shutdown."

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield

Though First District Congressman Ed Whitfield's press secretary said all of Whitfield's staff are essential to his efforts in Congress, the office is operating with a fifty percent reduction in staff.

"The remaining staff's sole responsibly is aiding the Congressman's efforts to reopen the government while negotiating necessary changes to the flawed Obamacare law that will increase premiums on Kentuckians anywhere from 65 to 106 percent," said Chris Pack.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

In an e-mail, the press secretary for U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Fifth District) said "we've reduced staff by roughly 50% during the shutdown."

U.S. Rep. Todd Young

Though most of Southern Indiana Congressman Todd Young's (R-Ninth District) offices are closed, one worker remains on a limited basis in Jeffersonville.  His staff is suggesting constituents call the Washington, D.C. office, instead.

U.S. Senator Dan Coats

A call to the Scottsburg field office of U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-Indiana) was forwarded to Coat's Indianapolis office.

"Senator Coats is furloughing roughly half of his staff," explained Tara DiJulio, Communications Director.  "while maintaining some personnel to carry out his core responsibility of representing Indiana, which includes hearing directly from Hoosiers as he works with his colleagues to find a solution."

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly (R-Indiana) has close all of his Indiana offices "until the shutdown ends."

"The Indiana phone lines have been forwarded to the Washington, D.C. office to answer questions and take comments from Hoosiers," detailed Elizabeth Shappell, Communications Director.

"All constituent services, including casework, responding to messages from Hoosiers, tour requests, flag orders, grant support requests, and other services will be delayed until the shutdown ends," Shappell continued.