Congress Prepares to Scale Back Operations

Posted September 27, 2013 at 4:30pm

If Congress slides into temporary shutdown, the Capitol will be open only to members, staff and visitors on official business — sorry tourists, all staff-led and guide-led tours would be canceled. And if you’re looking to access the website of the Library of Congress, you’ll be out of luck as well — it would be inaccessible.

Only one train will operate in the House Subway and the chamber’s dining options will be reduced. The Capitol Carryout and Longworth Cafeteria will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or until the last vote, whichever comes first, but all other House eateries would be closed. That’s according to a guide posted by the Committee on House Administration.

Dry cleaning services and the fitness center will both close, but mail delivery would continue as usual. The House Stationary Shop, Gift Shop, Beauty and Barber shops would also be closed.

On the Senate side, the Post Office would deliver only newspapers and the daily Congressional Record.

Parking lots would be open but not attended. The recording studio would do a live floor broadcast and committee coverage only.

The ID office is limited to emergencies only, and printing graphics and direct mail services would provide Senate floor support, but no mailings.

The Capitol Police would remain at full operational strength, “fully prepared for any contingence and constantly vigilant,” according to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, chairman of the Capitol Police Board.

Around the Capitol campus, the Library of Congress would cancel all public events and close all buildings to both the public and researchers, along with its websites, such as THOMAS, according to the LOC.

The Office of Compliance would cease its operations as well. The OOC is responsible for inspecting the health and safety around Capitol Hill to ensure that the workplace complies with the Congressional Accountability Act. The agency also helps mediate workplace disputes for legislative branch employees.

Over on North Capitol Street, the folks at the Government Printing Office will continue printing and publishing Congress’ every move in the daily Congressional Record, and will continue producing the Federal Register, but with a severely reduced staff.

The GPO anticipates a “skeletal staff,” with approximately 70 percent of its 1,900-person workforce furloughed during a government shutdown, according to spokesperson Gary Somerset.

“When Congress’ lights are on, GPO’s lights are on,” Somerset said. “ Whether it be a shutdown, blizzard, earthquake or hurricane, GPO employees will fulfill the digital and printing needs of Congress.”