News & Politics

White House Keeps the Interns Home During This Shutdown

Considering what happened with the interns the last time there was a government shutdown, this is probably the safe bet.

With the government in shutdown mode, many federal agencies today find themselves operating with skeleton crews. The White House is no different. The shutdown contingency plan put forward by the Executive Office of the President calls for the furlough of nearly 1,300 employees, with just 436 remaining on the job.
Of the lucky White House staffers who get to keep working through the shutdown, 118 are in the Office of Management and Budget, which is probably a good thing as OMB is tasked with trying to manage this mess. The National Security Council and Office of the US Trade Representatives also get to keep a few dozen staffers each, but the rest of the White House is going bare bones, including the residence, where only 15 of more than 90 full-time employees will continue to tend to the President Obama and his family.
One staffing department that is definitely being cleared out? Interns. Although interns and volunteers are not mentioned specifically on the White House’s contingency plan, at a briefing yesterday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said that unpaid White House workers won’t be working through the shutdown. “I don’t believe that has been the case and is not the case now that volunteers or interns would be working,” he said in response to a reporter who reminded Carney that during the November 1995 shutdown, White House interns stayed on the job. And a fateful encounter occured on the second day of that spell.
Ms. Lewinsky testified that Wednesday, November 15, 1995-—the second day of the government shutdown—marked the beginning of her sexual relationship with the President,” the Starr Report memorably reads.
Probably just a safe bet to let the interns stay home and take advantage of the drink specials.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.