Lawmakers still getting perks as government shuts down

WASHINGTON — As the United States government remains shut down, leaving thousands of federal employees without a paycheck, Channel 2 Action News has learned taxpayer dollars are still funding perks for members of Congress.

On Capitol Hill, phones are going unanswered and offices are closed because members of Congress can't agree on a budget.

Channel 2's Jacqueline Fell walked through the halls of Congress Wednesday and found not much had changed for those responsible for the shutdown.

The in-house physician is still there, federal credit unions and the post office are still operating and the house recording studio remains open for members to tape high-quality messages for constituents.

Fell also found out that are lawmakers still able to send mass mailings back to their home districts on the taxpayers' dime.

Designers are still on the job producing poster boards that members use on the House floor. Again, all at the taxpayer's expense.

David Williams with the Taxpayer Protection Alliance calls it preposterous.

"They don't need these. What they need to do is they need to figure out a solution to this problem and get the government up and running again," Williams told Fell.

Fell also found subway trams are still being operated that take members of Congress from their offices to the Capitol. Fell made the walk, which took her about two minutes.

"Congress needs to suffer along with everybody else. That's what taxpayers want to see," Williams said.

There are some sacrifices. The House administration committee told Fell only one subway train is operating during the shutdown. She also saw the shoe shine stand, locksmith and beauty and barber shops closed.

Most members of Congress are still collecting their $174,000 salaries, which many said they will donate to charities or give back to the government.

They also still have free parking at Washington airports.