WASHINGTON (AP) — Now in its second week, the partial government shutdown has taken its toll on the White House, where about 3 of 4 staffers have been furloughed, barred even from checking the BlackBerrys they usually clutch like worry beads.
Of the 1,701 advisers, assistants, number-crunchers, butlers, chefs and landscapers who work at the White House on a normal day, fewer than 450 are on duty, according to President Barack Obama’s budget office. The rest fall under an unfortunate label that has kept hundreds of thousands of federal workers home: “non-essential.”
At one entrance to the West Wing, a wall that normally displays clippings from the day’s newspapers hasn’t been updated in over a week.
“Congress slips toward shutdown,” reads one outdated headline in a near-empty press office.
With a full array of official duties that must be carried out despite the impasse with Congress, Obama’s aides have strived to maintain normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal government’s nerve center with a skeletal staff have created a sense of mild disarray at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The staff of 90 that normally tends to the president’s residence has been cut to 15. In the West Wing, only a scaled-back menu is available at the White House mess. Trash cans are still being emptied and the bathrooms maintained, but the usual buzz of employees across the White House grounds has dipped to a quiet hum.
“The most evident impact is the lack of voices,” said Josh Earnest, Obama’s principle deputy press secretary. “There aren’t a bunch of people yammering on the phone.”
Vice President Joe Biden gets to keep the single staffer who works at his Naval Observatory residence, but his 24-person White House team has been cut in half.
Like Obama, who is skipping a planned trip to Asia this week, Biden also has had to trim back his schedule. His office said Tuesday that he was calling off a trip to New Jersey Friday for Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Senate campaign. Last week, he canceled a speech to the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign and an appearance at a fundraiser for House Democratic candidates.
Want to share your ideas with Obama about resolving the shutdown? Don’t bother calling. The White House switchboard has been set to roll over to a prerecorded message.
“We apologize, but due to the lapse in federal funding, we are unable to take your call,” the message says.
The few senior White House aides still working are performing duties generally reserved for low-level assistants, like planning Obama’s off-campus events, scheduling meetings, sending announcements to the media and getting visitors cleared by the Secret Service.
Even Obama pitched in last week as he left the White House for a visit to a nearby sandwich shop without the usual entourage of staffers who shepherd the media accompanying him. With more senior staff filling in as “wranglers,” journalists ended up trailing behind the president, only able to see his back.
“Let’s go, wranglers!” the president teased his staff, pausing to tell reporters to get in front.
The White House “advance” office, which coordinates the president’s travel, is just about shuttered. In a departure from normal procedure, Obama’s schedule this week is being announced day by day.
That’s also meant fewer outings for Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — a cutback that also reflects the touchy optics of pursuing leisurely activities while federal workers are furloughed. Since the shutdown started, Obama hasn’t played a round of golf, as he does almost every weekend. And there was no fancy night at a restaurant for the president and Mrs. Obama, who marked their 21st wedding anniversary Thursday.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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