By Sandy Alexander
WASHINGTON – The snow that emptied the streets of Washington also quieted the halls of Congress for a second day Wednesday, but for staffers in at least half of the Maryland delegation’s offices it was just another workday.
“We were very hardy,” said Sallie Taylor, deputy press secretary for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, whose office was fully staffed Wednesday and half- staffed Tuesday, during the height of the snowstorm.
Calls to Maryland senators and representatives Wednesday were met with everything from unanswered rings and recorded messages that the office was closed to staffers reporting that the office was operating at full-speed.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, did not venture into Washington during the Tuesday snowfall that buried St. Mary’s County along with much of the region, but his aides said he was on the Hill Wednesday morning, and that he attended a Democratic leadership meeting in the afternoon.
Hoyer’s staff had the option of staying home, but several made it in on both Tuesday and Wednesday. His press secretary, Debra DeShong, said the halls of the Longworth Office Building were very quiet and a little deserted Wednesday and the staff had to search out a cup of coffee when the building’s cafeteria did not open on time.
While Hoyer was able to make it to the Hill, the snowstorm canceled flights and left Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore, stranded in Florida, where he had attended a health care policy conference. His office was closed Tuesday, but reopened Wednesday when about half the staff decided to come in.
An assistant in Bartlett’s office said that five of eight staff members arrived Tuesday, and decided to stay and work after the federal government announced it was shutting down. Bartlett had to cancel his appointments Tuesday, but spent Wednesday working in Hagerstown and Frederick.
The Washington office of Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, was also staffed both days, while the congressman stayed home and battled the flu. Jill Homan, a press aide, said the staff was able to “crank out some much needed work,” and Ehrlich “had some time to recuperate before the busy legislative session.”
“People often give their free time because they believe in what he does,” Homan said of the staff’s decision to work on a snow day.
The phone in Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office was answered by a lone staffer who would not give his name and referred a reporter to the Democrat’s Baltimore office. A phone message there said the district office was closed due to the weather.
Recorded messages in the offices of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Baltimore, and Reps. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, and Connie Morella, R-Bethesda, said those offices were also closed Wednesday due to weather.
The message for Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Kennedyville, said no one could come to the phone but callers could leave a message. As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, the mailbox was full. There was no answer at the office of Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Baltimore.