Shutdown presents a challenge to freshman lawmakers, congressional nonprofit CEO says

Freshman lawmakers will face challenges to gain their footing in Congress in the face of a government a government shutdown, Bradford Fitch, the president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, said Thursday. 

"Setting up a congressional office is like setting up a small business with all of the headaches that go along with it, with all of the red tape of a bureaucracy. Picture doing that in the middle of a hurricane," Fitch told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising." 

"That's in essence what is going on right now. They have this crisis that they're facing where they are having to make decisions and negotiate with the administration, or with each other," he continued. 

"At the same time, they've got to buy computers. They've got to pick out office space. They've got to hire staff. They've got to set personnel policies and along the way, the expectation of their constituents is they've got to be performing from day one, and that's the challenge of being a freshman lawmaker," he added.  

Fitch's comments came the same day that the 116th Congress is sworn in amid an ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 13th day on Thursday. 

"This is actually the first time in history where that's happened," Fitch said. "Other times where the shutdowns have occurred it's been in even-numbered years, and not around the time of swearing-in."

The shutdown began Dec. 22 amid a stalemate on funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The Senate had passed a seven-week stopgap bill and expected President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE to sign it. The president, however, under fire from conservative lawmakers and allies, refused to support the bill, doubling down on his demand for border wall funding.

— Julia Manchester