The government shutdown hasn't closed the private House and Senate gyms, which have been kept open along with their showers by the Architect of the Capitol, the agency responsible for the maintenance of the Capitol Complex.
But Illinois Democratic Rep. Bill Foster wants to change that and has introduced a bill that would shut the gym doors to lawmakers whenever a government shutdown occurs or when the architect's office doesn't have the funding for it, The Hill reports
Florida Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy has signed on as the only co-sponsor so far of Foster's Shutdown Prioritization Act. Other lawmakers, according to the Hill, took the position that keeping the exclusive facilities open was important because congressional members need a place to work out and relieve stress during their busy days.
The shutdown, however, has caused some problems. Most of the gym employees have been sent home until the budget impasse is resolved, including the folks who keep it neat and clean and launder the towels, according to The Hill
Not a problem for some lawmakers, who admit to saving their dirty towels after showering and reusing them several times. For others though, things are beginning to get, well, a little "rank," according to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Most members could probably care less whether the gyms, which cost members $250 a year to use, stay open or not. But for some lawmakers who literally live in their offices during the week, the gym has become sort of a home away from home, where they can relax, hangout with other members, or clean up whenever the need arises.
“This job is very stressful and if you don't have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy, and that's why I've used it all these years,” said Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, who has used the House facility routinely since 1973.
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