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Foster Introduces Bill To Pull 'Essential' Status For Congressional Gym

Oct 9, 2013
In The News

The federal government may be closed, but the gyms for members of Congress are still open. That doesn't sit well with U.S. Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL, 11) and Patrick Murphy (D-FL, 18).

The two House representatives introduced the Shutdown Prioritization Act (SPA) Tuesday, which would require House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH, 8) to remove the members-only gym and spa from the list of essential House services. The SPA Act would not allow the Architect of the Capitol to operate the facility in the event of a government shutdown.

Speaker Boehner’s office reportedly made the decision to keep the taxpayer-funded gym, sauna and steam room open. The gym for Congressional staffers, however, has closed during the shutdown. The members' gym in the Senate, however, appears to be open.

“Members of Congress should not enjoy access to their exclusive gym and spa while Capitol police go without pay, children are being turned away from Head Start and veterans are left wondering if their benefits will come in the mail on November 1,” Foster said in a statement. “If veterans’ benefits processing, food assistance for women and children and medical research are not ‘essential’ then the sauna, steam room and gym for members of Congress certainly are not. It is time to end this reckless and irresponsible shutdown which is putting our economic recovery at risk and disrupting essential services that, unlike the members’ gym, are essential to hardworking American families.”