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Friday
Oct042013

Life Inside the WH During Shutdown: POTUS Doing the Dishes?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama washing the dishes? First Lady Michelle Obama doing her own laundry?
 
That’s not exactly the scene inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave during this government shutdown. But White House aides say the mandatory furloughs are having an impact on the First Family’s home.    
 
The Executive Residence staff, which “provides for the care and maintenance” of the president’s household, has been reduced by 83 percent, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
 
Only 15 of the typical 90 workers who keep the Obamas’ apartment running -- from cooks to cleaning ladies --  are now on the job. The smaller crew is there to “provide minimum maintenance and support,” OMB says.
 
White House spokesman Jay Carney said this week that the entire Executive Office of the President would be running on “skeletal staff,” making all operations in the West Wing and nearby executive office buildings “extremely lean.”
 
Overall, only a quarter of the 1,700 full-time White House staff are currently on the job.
 
During the last shutdown of 1995 and 1996, when Bill and Hillary Clinton were in the White House, the official residence staff was similarly curtailed, according to news reports from the time.  
 
There were only two housekeepers, one butler and one usher on duty during the day, with just a single housekeeper and usher available at night.  In the kitchen, there was only one chef to prepare meals during the day, while another came in for the evening.
 
Current assistant White House chef Sam Kass, who occasionally cooks evening meals for the First Family, is on furlough.  Meanwhile, the White House mess, which serves staffers and some visitors, remains open but with a limited menu.
 
When President Obama and Vice President Biden went out for sandwiches Friday to a nearby deli, they also gave a break to a much-reduced kitchen staff that would normally prepare their weekly meal in the private West Wing dining room.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio