Light Snow, Not Gridlock, Shuts Down Federal Government

December 10, 2013
Colorado's House delegation was present, but 84 lawmakers from other states missed the first vote at 4 p.m.

Colorado’s House delegation was present, but 84 lawmakers from other states missed the first vote at 4 pm – long after snow flurries dissipated

WASHINGTON — A winter storm that was predicted to drop up to six inches of snow here Tuesday forced a complete federal government shutdown but delivered less than an inch in most parts of the city and only a trace of the white stuff on Capitol Hill.

While hundreds of thousands of federal workers stayed home, the business of Congress was only slightly delayed with votes rescheduled so that airport delays did not prevent members from casting votes.

The Colorado delegation was present and accounted for, with Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet casting votes at 10:30 a.m. that were postponed from Monday evening.

Colorado’s House delegation was also at work and casting votes, but 84 lawmakers from other states missed the first vote at 4 p.m., long after the snow flurries dissipated.

“Despite the fact that the Office of Personnel Management has deemed the operating status of the federal government as closed, Congressman (Cory) Gardner’s entire Washington, DC staff is working and in the office today,” said Alex Siciliano, the Republican’s spokesman.

“Some of us drive to work while others use public transportation, none of us encountered any issues on our way in. Traffic on the roads was scarce, and the metro was nearly empty,” Siciliano said.

Josh Green, spokesman for Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, said their office was open and staffed, as did a spokesman for Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Colorado’s congressional staffers historically take pride in showing up for work when snowstorms strike the nation’s capitol, typically laughing off the inability of thousands of other congressional staffers from other states to brave winter weather.

But even the locals were making fun of Tuesday’s minor snow event, posting pictures on Facebook of landmarks like the Supreme Court where the only white in the photo was the building itself, and Tweeting pictures of bare downtown sidewalks.

One Fox News producer with a view of the Capitol told the Observer in the morning that a dusting of snow was “desperately clinging” to trees and grass surrounding the Senate office buildings.

“On the plus side, it took 15 minutes to drive to work today,” he said.

A television weather forecaster used a yardstick to measure snow accumulation in upper Northwest DC and announced it had topped out at one inch, another reporter in Vienna, Va. stuck her finger in the snow and declared it “knuckle deep.”

Some parts of Maryland and Virginia were harder hit with several inches of snow, and nearly 10,000 electrical outages were reported in Virginia, compared with less than 100 in DC.

The federal government is expected to reopen on Wednesday.

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