Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) yesterday took preemptive steps to deem her entire staff "essential" during the federal government shutdown, which began today, October 1. Norton took the same action prior to the near-shutdown of April 2011, and her action is consistent with the guidelines provided by the Committee on House Administration, which leave all staffing decisions entirely to the discretion of each member of Congress. Both Norton's Capitol Hill and District offices will remain open and will keep normal business hours. Her staff has been deemed essential, and just as essential federal workers, will work without pay until after the shutdown.
Norton, in her memo to her staff, wrote, "The burden and the responsibilities of the staff that represent the District of Columbia are always greater than for other districts, particularly considering that the shutdown of the federal government could bring down the D.C. government with it. We represent a district that has no senators and only one member of Congress We cannot abandon our constituents."
Norton's memo to her staff follows.
TO: ALL STAFF
DATE: September 30, 2013
RE: Federal Government Shutdown
As you know, there is an increasing possibility that the federal government and Congress will shut down on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. Under the guidelines of the House Administration Committee, each Member may decide on who constitutes "essential staff." All staff in our office is essential and both our Hill and District offices will be open and will keep normal hours in the event of a shutdown. Please note that tomorrow, Tuesday, October 1, may be the first day of a shutdown, but we will be open as usual, including the Open House at 5:00 p.m., an all hands on deck event.
The burden and the responsibilities of the staff that represent the District of Columbia are always greater than for other districts, particularly considering that the shutdown of the federal government could bring down the D.C. government with it. We represent a district that has no senators and only one member of Congress. Our local government's balanced budget is tied up in a congressional fight, and the chances of a shutdown have grown greater than 50-50 with every day. The District has had to cobble together a way to keep the city open. We cannot abandon our constituents.
Your work is vital to D.C. residents and to me to carry out my constitutional responsibilities as a member of Congress. We must always be on the job and available to the residents of the District of Columbia. I know that they are grateful for your service. I am particularly grateful to each of you.