Congress Puts Politicking on Autopilot
Posted at 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 4
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Just because members have technically switched the lights off in their offices doesn’t mean the behind-the-scenes sniping has to stop.
That’s what Maryland resident Bunnie Riedel said she discovered when she tried to ring members of her delegation to protest the shameful treatment of visiting World War II veterans who were temporarily turned away from the monuments on the first day of the government shutdown.
“It was almost like a campaign speech on those recordings,” Riedel complained to HOH about the announcements she had to sit through during calls to Democratic Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin.
The canned messages portray the work stoppage as being beyond their control. “Sen. Mikulski deeply opposes shutting the offices of the federal government and you not being able to reach our office for help or to offer your advice,” the prerecorded voice tending to the affairs of the senior senator from Maryland alerts constituents.
But what most upset Riedel, whose husband has been furloughed because of the budget impasse, was that she had to deal with a robot at all.
“She’s still getting paid. The least she could do is answer the phone,” Riedel fumed, noting that she was able to share her concerns with the still-present aides in the office of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.
Of course, not everyone on the House side was lucky enough to avoid getting waylaid by the work stoppage.
Scott Parker, chief of staff to Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is, via his auto-reply, effectively prodding Utahans to pester Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., into playing ball.
HOH attempted to contact Team Bishop about who devised the “go bug them” strategy — a GOP leadership aide said there’s been no caucus-wide guidance about overtly picking fights with the other chamber — but all we got, of course, was a suggestion to go give Team Reid an earful.