Senate Barber Shop Faces Budget Haircut

Mar 29, 2013 1:01pm
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J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

In an attempt to curb wasteful government spending, Terrance Gainer, Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate, is planning his own trims and cuts to the budget. Literally.

As sergeant at arms, Gainer is responsible not only for the maintenance of security protocol for the Senate, but also for arranging funerals, keeping custody of the Senate gavel, even maintaining senatorial hair coifs and cuts (sort of). And it’s the last where the trims come in.

In 2012, the Senate Hair Care Service received $300,000 in taxpayer bailout funds  to keep it in business. This state of affairs sharply contrasts with Capitol Barber, the privatized House of Representatives’ barbershop, which does not rely on taxpayer assistance. Gainer is attempting to replicate the success of the Capitol Barber by privatizing Senate Hair Care Services.

“With the sequester, I’ve got a pretty big hole to fill,” he said in a New York Times interview published Wednesday.

According to his plan, the Senate barbershop would be privatized over the course of the next few years while giving Senate Hair Care Service employees the option of being bought out. Those who accept the buyout would be replaced with less expensive, private contractors. At this point, four of the nine Hair Care Service employees have accepted the buyout, the Times reported.

Sergeant Gainer’s proposal is not the first case of financial controversy over coifs and cuts in the Senate. In 1951, Sen. Paul Douglas (D-Ill.) opposed taxpayer funding of their legislators’ haircuts. Almost 30 years later, at the height of the 1979 economic energy crisis, public pressure forced the U.S. government to cut down on unnecessary spending, which required senators to pay a small fee for haircuts.

Today, the price of a haircut at the Senate Hair Care Service remains low. The salon charges $20 for a haircut, $18 for a manicure and $15 for an eyebrow trim, according to the Times, all while boasting favorable customer reviews online. The salon is also open to the public.

Although Gainer’s plans have attracted a lot of attention in the past few days, he baldly refuses to say anything more about the topic. A spokesperson for the sergeant told ABC New Thursday that the sergeant “had no further comment[s] on hair care.”

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