Congress reluctant to shut down its own offices

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

California's members in Congress, such as Republican John Campbell, say it's hard to predict how many of their staff members will be furloughed in the event of a government shutdown.

If the government shuts down Saturday, “non-essential” personnel will be furloughed. But it’s hard to find any Californian in Congress that considers their staff “non-essential.”

Ask House Republican Elton Gallegly or Democrats Zoe Lofgren, Mike Honda, Jim Costa, Grace Napolitano or Maxine Waters who’s essential and the answer is the same: "everybody on my staff."

Waters says her entire office will help constituents affected by a government shutdown.

"We’re still fighting for you and we still want to answer questions for you," she says. "We still want to solve problems for you."

Republican John Campbell agrees constituents will bombard his office with questions.

"And depending on how heavy that load is, we may need all hands on deck to take those calls. Or we may not," says Campbell, who's furloughing two-thirds of his staff.

"And if we’re wrong, we either have too many or too little, then we’ll adjust the next day," he adds.

Republican Buck McKeon isn't sure about his district staff. But he did commit to cutbacks at his Armed Services Committee. He says he'll put 20 employees on a rotating furlough.

Among other California Republicans, Ken Calvert says his staff is essential, but he can’t guarantee they’ll be paid; Duncan Hunter is “working through the details;” and Dana Rohrabacher says the definition of who’s essential is “very convoluted.”

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