By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON – When it comes to a government shutdown, Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin doesn’t mess around.
The Madison Democrat is taking her ball and going home.
Baldwin announced on her U.S. Senate website Tuesday morning that her offices are closed for business.
“Due to a lapse in government funding, federal law and Senate rules require that my website and Senate offices shut down,” Baldwin states.
What does that mean?
- Her offices are closed and phones will not be answered.
- Emails sent to individual staff members will be responded to at the conclusion of the shutdown.
- Letters and emails sent to the senator will receive a response when her office is opened.
- Baldwin’s staff will be unable to assist you during the shutdown.
Interesting, this law and these rules. Her Wisconsin Senate colleague, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, has kept his offices open, although with bare bones staffing. In fact, all of Wisconsin’s congressional delegations have maintained at least limited constituent services on the first day of what really is a partial government shutdown.
“Maybe she is interpreting it slightly different than I am,” Johnson said of Baldwin’s decision to shut down.
“I want to make sure we are able to respond to any emergency constituents may have, so we are maintaining bare-bones staff to answer phones, to handle press and to schedule for me,” the senator told Wisconsin Reporter, adding that his Senate colleague is entitled to run her office “the way she sees fit.”
According to Johnson’s office and other congressional sources, each member of Congress may determine who is essential staff to maintain basic services. Johnson’s offices in Milwaukee and Oshkosh also remain open, with bare bones staffing.
That appears to be the case for the rest of Wisconsin’s congressional delegations. Staff members say the offices are functioning, if on a very limited basis. You’re more likely to get a voicemail message begging for your patience.
A staff member in U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore’s Milwaukee office tells Wisconsin Reporter the Democrat felt it important to remain open Tuesday, the first day of open enrollment in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges. The Milwaukee congresswoman expected a lot of questions, according to the staffer.
Late Tuesday morning, Baldwin updated her Senate website. Her offices still are closed for business, but the freshened up website now includes a plethora of information on signing up for Obamacare, beneath a photo of the senator sharing a laugh with medical staff.
Baldwin, in the statement, apologizes for the inconvenience and says she looks forward to opening her offices and website as soon as possible.
“Although my office is currently shut down, I will be sure to respond to any inquiries as soon as my office is able to open,” the senator says.
Contact M.D. Kittle at [email protected]
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