Only one of these things is available during the current government shutdown: a clinical treatment for stage four cancer or Congress's members-only gyms — which includes the House member's swimming pool, basketball courts, sauna, steam room, and flat-screen television. Can you guess which one was deemed essential? Silly you, why you'd pick cancer?
According to the liberal Think Progress, the very fancy House gym (the same gym where Anthony Weiner took those photos) is still open for business. "[T]he decision to keep the gym open — even while other critical government services were shelved — came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office," Think Progress reports, explaining that taxpayer dollars are paying for the cleaning, maintenance, and power to heat the pools and keep the lights on. So for those of you keeping track of the workouts of the buffest members of Congress, P90X fan Paul Ryan and Men's Health coverboy Aaron Schock can still work out.
Meanwhile, work that could save lives — not just congressional abs — has been halted during the shutdown. The government has deemed Nobel Prize-winning physicist David Wineland and his research non-essential. But what makes you really question what kind of stuff is "essential" and "non-essential" is a clinical trial which could help save Michelle Langbehn's life. The Washington Post's Sarah Kliff spoke with Langbehn, and Langbehn explained how the government shut down her treatment with the drug Cabozantinib:
When I contacted him [the clinical research coordinator] on September 30, he had told me all my records had been sent in, and they had started evaluation, that they needed to do their own re-diagnosis. They had started, and then on Tuesday, everything came to a halt.
The National Institutes of Health admits about 200 patients each week for clinical trials, The Wall Street Journal reports. And Langbehn is one of those 200, which also includes children with cancer. "This is a matter of life or death. I’m not just doing this for myself. There are 200 people that are trying to get into clinical trials each week. I want to speak for all of us," Langbehn added.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.