Biden Welcomes EPA Employees Back To Work With Muffins
PHOTO: Vice President Joe Biden, right, greets Environmental Protection Agency workers as they return to work after 16 days of a government shutdown at the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building in Washington, Oct. 17, 2013.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters this morning to welcome back returning furloughed employees.

With muffins in hand, the vice president personally greeted workers. "Welcome back everybody," he said, as he stretched out his arms to hug a returning employee. "It's kind of like the first day of school."

"I am happy it's ended. It was unnecessary to begin with," Biden told reporters of the 16-day government shutdown.

"There was no economic rationale for any of this," he said. "Budgets are supposed to be fought over economic issues. There was no economic rationale for this at all. And I hope, I hope everybody walks away with a lesson that this is unnecessary and I hope we can regain the trust of the American people."

As workers entered the downtown headquarters, they were handed a memo including a welcome back note from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

"We have certainly missed you!" she wrote, according to the pool. "I know the past couple of weeks have been difficult, especially for families. But we are working to ensure your transition back to the office is smooth and as painless as possible."

The memo also included logistical information about transitioning back to work, including a reminder for employees to remove their 'out of office' messages, and noted "the next pay day is Tuesday, October 29th for the pay period ending October 19th and should reflect pay for all furlough hours for both pay periods."

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