Bill Would Close Congressional Gym, Dining Room During Shutdown

A new bill would close the Congressional gym and dining room during the shutdown but guarantee pay for the employees working there.

Legislation recently introduced in the House would prohibit Members of Congress from using their gym and dining room during the partial government shutdown.

The Shutdown Prioritization Act (H.R. 7398) was introduced by Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL). It would prohibit the Architect of the Capitol from operating the Congressional gym and dining room during the shutdown.

However, it would guarantee back pay to the federal employees who work in these two places. The language of the bill states, “Any employee of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol who is assigned to the exercise facility or Members’ Dining Room described in subsection (a) and who is furloughed as a result of a Government shutdown shall be compensated at the employee’s standard rate of compensation, for the period of such Government shutdown, as soon as practicable after such Government shutdown ends.”

Foster says it’s wrong that janitorial staff are still required to clean the gym and restock it with towels and other “essential items” during the partial government shutdown.

In a statement about the bill, Foster said, “Speaker Ryan continues to use the gym during this shutdown while federal workers face uncertainty over the holidays. The only essential task Members of Congress have during a government shutdown is negotiating an end to the shutdown. It’s time to tell President Trump and Congressional Republicans to end their Congressional perks during a shutdown and focus on getting the government up and running. We need to get federal employees back to work and to provide funding for priorities important to the American people.”

The bill is predicted to be unlikely to pass given the few remaining days of the current Congress which concludes on January 3, 2019.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.