COLUMBIA, SC — The Buzz likes reaching out to the nine fellas in the S.C. congressional delegation every now and again. But on Friday (aka Federal Shutdown Day 4), Buzz found a few folks were not answering the phones.
We called U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Russell Building office and received a recorded message about how staffing was limited during the shutdown. The message also shared that the Seneca Republican pledged to donate his pay during the shutdown to the Wounded Warrior program.
The offices of Republican U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan of Laurens and Trey Gowdy of Spartanburg also greeted a caller with recordings.
Duncan’s message from the Cannon Building blames “the president and the Senate’s unwillingness to work with House Republicans” for the shutdown.
Gowdy’s recording from the Longworth Building just cites “limited staff availability” due to the shutdown – without assigning blame.
Constituents, however, could leave messages for the senator and congressmen, and express their opinions about the status of the federal government.
Meanwhile, real people answered phones Friday afternoon at the offices of U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, and U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia; Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land; Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach; Mark Sanford, R-Charleston; and Joe Wilson, R-Springdale.
The Buzz is happy to know that, even during a government shutdown, we can get a live body at some places to demand the feds fill that pothole in front of the house.
(What? No more earmarks? No more stimulus money? ... Oh, nevermind.)
Duncan tweets the shutdown
While the government has become quieter during the shutdown, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan has found time to ratchet up his social media voice.
By late Friday, the Laurens Republican had tweeted more than 60 times from his congressional account since federal funding was cut – double the amount of the S.C. delegation’s eight other members combined.
“We need a President who will lead and work with the people’s representatives to end this shutdown,” tweeted Duncan, who also added daily shutdown updates to his Facebook page.
The 47-year-old father of three is the right age to use social media, his spokesman said. Duncan’s Twitter feed includes the view from his committee seat when Secretary of State John Kerry testified about Syria last month and President Barack Obama stood at a podium during a meeting with congressmen in March.
“He wants to share with people what he experiences every day,” spokesman Allen Klump said.
For Sanford, the federal shutouts go coastal
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford saw something last week that he never has seen in Washington, during one of his nightly runs from the Capitol down the National Mall: The Lincoln Memorial barricaded.
That didn’t happen during the last federal government shutdown in the 1996 federal budget year, when, incidentally, Sanford was representing South Carolina’s 1st District the first time. Nor has it ever happened, he said.
The Charleston Republican had scheduled a run Thursday near the memorial to raise awareness about what he sees as the federal shutdown’s unnecessary closure of some federal parks and attractions that are putting out schoolchildren, veterans and, in his district, boaters.
In South Carolina, Sanford noted the feds have closed a typically unstaffed boat landing in the Buck Hall Recreation Area in the Francis Marion National Forest.
A letter from S.C. Department of Natural Resources director Alvin Taylor lamented the feds not reaching out to local agencies, like his, to maintain access to the boat launch during the area’s busiest season.
It’s a political stunt courtesy of President Barack Obama, Sanford says, adding, “The president is overplaying his hand in inconveniencing folks.”
Sanford’s protest run was stymied Thursday when a car chase ended with the shooting death of a woman by Capitol police. The officers who responded to that incident reportedly were among the federal workers asked to work without pay after Congress could not agree on a federal spending plan.
Ties that bind in the Senate race?
The race for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Lindsey Graham includes a stream of tea partiers looking to knock off the incumbent.
It also includes someone with family ties, depending on how you look at it, to U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, who said Friday he has no plans to run for either of the state’s U.S. Senate seats on the ballot next year.
Graham is one of two godfathers to Sanford’s son Blake, the congressman told The Buzz Friday.
Asked whether those ties would yield a Sanford endorsement for the Seneca Republican and tea party target Graham, Sanford did not answer.
Sanford was happy to talk about the government shutdown, however, saying politely, “Anything else?”
State staffer Jamie Self contributed.