House members forced to reuse gym towels


House lawmakers are picking up their own towels at their private gym, which has remained open during the government shutdown. [WATCH SECOND VIDEO]

The gym was to have been closed, but the Architect of the Capitol decided to keep the facility open because several House members store personal items inside.

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No one is there to check members into the facility in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building, which is open exclusively to current and former House members.

Members don’t only have to pick up their towels — they have to reuse them for their showers, because there is no more laundering service.

Lawmakers, including some who live in their offices during visits to Washington and use the gym’s showers to clean up, say they need the gym to stay open.

“This job is very stressful and if you don't have a place to vent, you are going to go crazy and that's why I've used it all these years,” said Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who has used the facility since 1973.

At the gym, two gray metal doors are locked. There is a phone and a key card reader to the side that reads: “Members may gain access using this telephone. Just pick up for assistance.”

Members on Tuesday argued the gym isn’t some fancy club, even if it is hard to be a member.

It costs members a $250 annual fee and is similar to a YMCA, said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.). It contains cardio machines, a weight area, a swimming pool and a basketball court.

“The gym is just a room, there are machines but there are no trainers,” Duncan added.

Democratic Rep. Jim Moran (Va.) noted that he ran on Tuesday morning and had to clean up after himself following his workout.

“You have to save your towel, you have to reuse it because we let the staff go — I know the showers are still working, and it doesn't take any maintenance to maintain the weights,” Moran told The Hill.

Senators across the dome face a similar situation.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said the Senate gym is “open just like the hallways are open,” but the four staff members who usually help run the facility were no longer present.

On Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the Senate’s gym was becoming “rank.”