Some Senators Manning the Phones for Furloughed Staff

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-10_5e9c5fc45c.jpgSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- The phones are still ringing in Washington, D.C. offices, where furloughed congressional staffers once roamed. So some U.S. senators have stepped up to take their own constituents’ calls. “Let ‘em rip baby!” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said as he sat down at the front desk of his Capitol Hill office to take phone calls Wednesday afternoon.

Manchin’s office has been downsized to 11 staffers from 27 since the government shut down Tuesday, prompting the West Virginia senator to take his turn at manning the phones.

“This morning, I was about as frustrated as anybody and I thought this was senseless and ridiculous, and I looked out here and most of my staff’s all gone because we had to lay them off, furlough them, if you will,” Manchin said. “I saw the phones lit up, and I just sat down and started talking to people this morning and go to meetings and come back and grab them again and in between meetings I just keep answering the phone."

“It gives me a good understanding of the frustration level and the people that are being hurt and the people that are scared,” he added.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has been taking shifts on the phones since the shutdown started Tuesday and has encouraged his colleagues to follow suit.

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