Now in its second week,the partial government shutdown has taken its toll on the White House,where about 3 of 4 staffers have been furloughed,barred even from checking the BlackBerrys they usually clutch like worry beads.
Of the 1,701 advisers,assistants,number-crunchers,butlers,chefs and landscapers who work at the White House on a normal day,fewer than 450 are on duty,according to President Obamas office.
With a full array of official duties that must be carried out despite impasse with Congress,Obamas aides have strived to maintain normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal governments nerve centre with a skeletal staff have created a sense of mild disarray at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
The staff of 90 that normally tends to the presidents residence has been cut to 15.
In the West Wing,only a scaled-back menu is available at the White House mess. Trash cans are still being emptied and the bathrooms maintained,but the usual buzz of employees across the White House grounds has dipped to a quiet hum.
The most evident impact is the lack of voices, said Josh Earnest,Obamas principle deputy press secretary. There arent a bunch of people yammering on the phone.
Even Obama pitched in last week as he left the White House for a visit to a nearby sandwich shop without the usual entourage of staffers who shepherd the media accompanying him. With more senior staff filling in as wranglers,journalists ended up trailing behind him.
Will negotiate if threats are withdrawn: Obama to Boehner
WASHINGTON: US President Obama Tuesday offered to negotiate with the Republican leadership only after the threat of government shutdown and debt default have been removed,the White House said. Obama conveyed this message to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner in a telephone call from his Oval Office.
The President also repeated his willingness to negotiate on priorities including policies that expand economic opportunity,support private sector job creation,enhance competitiveness of American businesses and continue to reduce the nations deficit. PTI