Gyms for Congress Deemed ‘Essential,’ Remain Open During Shutdown

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This post first appeared in ThinkProgress.

Head Start programs have been shuttered, small businesses can’t get loans and hundreds of thousands of federal government employees are furloughed. But the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown.

A House aide confirmed to ThinkProgress that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on.

According to the aide, the decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed.

It appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) complained to a reporter from the Omaha World-Herald that the members gym was getting “rank.”

The daily operating cost of the House and Senate gyms remains shrouded in secrecy. The Architect of the Capitol, which oversees both gyms, has previously refused to provide information about the gyms for “security reasons.” A call to the Architect of the Capitol for this story was not immediately returned.

Dozens of House members — including many members of the tea party who pushed the government into shutdown over demands to defund Obamacare — live in their offices to save money and use the House gym to shower.

Judd Legum is editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress. Previously, Judd was the research director for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign. He also worked at American Progress from 2003 to 2007, when he founded and edited ThinkProgress.  Legum is a member of the Maryland Bar and has practiced as an attorney, focusing on civil and criminal trial work. Judd has also appeared frequently on radio and television, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.
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  • Jerry Squarey

    Dont surprise me at all.

  • Redhawke

    Either get past the juvenile way the government is not dealing with things or don’t. Continuing to point fingers at the ones “supposedly” whining or complaining the most over another group is pure stupidity and very annoying. Seriously, are we in grade school again?

  • Anonymous

    A whole damned Congress full of Louis XVIs and Marie Antoinettes.

  • Tresia Eachus Mitchell

    Do they live in a bubble ????? Their pay should stop & ALL of their privileges should end. I hope the nation remembers this , come next election. THEY ALL NEED TO BE REPLACED !

  • Anonymous

    ARe you kidding me??? Shut it the hell down. They get enough exercise flapping their lips. This is complete nonsense. People are starving. People can’t pay their bills, People across this nation need help, People need the Government to be open. NOT the DAMN gym!!! Shut it down!

  • Anonymous

    Lindsey Graham is a total you know what……..what a hypocrite as well as all the Gop and Democratic Senators and Representatives…………what goes on in the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal goverment is simply leaglized theft, larcency, whatever you want to call it………..these people are all crooks!! Richard Nixon looks like an angel compared to everyone of them………..I wish I could use the language I want to use on here but can’t.

  • Jennifer

    Two wrongs do not make a right. Plus, Obama isn’t the cause of the shutdown. He’s not a great president and has his faults, but this is one thing not on him.

  • Dracul Jan Ivanescu

    Yes Ma’am they listen to rw radio and watch fox…..

  • ProgressiveWarrior

    Who frequents these gyms? Pretty pitiful individuals, really.

  • Candace McClellan

    House Majority Leader John Boehner, as the article clearly states.

  • Anonymous

    WHAT DO YOU EXPECT from a group of Congressmen who truly believe they are superior to other human beings – who truly believe they are EXCEPTIONAL people above the “lower classes”? With that mindset, we should not be surprised at anything they do!

  • mclem

    We now have government by STUPID from both parties. The president closes grass malls and open air monuments at the expennse of the government to put up the baracades to protect the grass. The congress does not have a budget so many are sent home, but a bill to pay them later surfaces. the worst of both worlds. No work, it will still cost the taxpayer and the worker does not have money today to pay his bills. Then there are others such as the TSA that are not getting paid but I am told that they are afraid of losing their jobs if they do not show up and will be paid later. The defence dept has decided that alomost all of their employees are essential when the Air Force Academy ran out of toilet paper when the employee who orders it was not there. Congress has kept their gyms open for themselves. I don;t even see this as even close to necessary. Just a cost to taxpayers without any benefit. Where did the “problem solvers” of both parties go? Maybe we should not allow any taxpayer money to be spent by congressmen to fly back and forth to their home then they will certainly find a way to get something done. By the way we will all know who the congressment are who do not know anyone of their collegs and use the gym showers . they will stink just like the government they are giving us.

  • panola911

    To start with, it is utterly ridiculous that tax payers are footing the bill for this luxury facility for members of Congress. Then secondly, if taxpayers are footing the bill, then they should be entitled to know everything about it, particularly how much it cost to be built and to be maintained. It should not be a security issue as it should not have been built. As for those who live in their offices, I have no pity for them. If they can’t afford a small apartment on their $174.000 per year salary, there is something wrong with how they spend their money. There are newborn babies having to do without the formula necessary for them to grow healthy bodies because WIC has been cut, but Congressmen can still get a pedicure…. that is so wrong. Everyone of them needs to be replaced. It would like to see a published list of who uses the gym.

  • Anonymous

    BOTH parties? You have the republicans of one half of one of the three branches of the government holding the country hostage. How is that “both parties”?