D.C.

Government Shutdown 2013: Rep. Bruce Braley takes heat for U.S. House gym comments

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A Democratic congressman from Iowa is taking a lot of criticism for comments some say are out of touch -- especially in the midst of a government shutdown.

Rep. Bruce Braley made the comments while appearing on "The Bill Press Show" Wednesday morning. Press asked him a question related to why the U.S. House gymnasium has not been shut down.

"The staff gym is closed, but the members' gym is still open. Why?" Press asked.

"Because it's one of the few places where Republicans and Democrats actually talk to each other," Braley replied.

When pressed further on the issue, Braley made the comments that are getting the most attention.

"There's hardly anybody working down there," he said of the conditions at the gym. "There's no towel service. We're doing our own laundry down there. And we pay a fee to belong to the House gym."

"I was speechless," Press said, telling ABC7 he thought he was asking Braley an easy question that he would answer by saying the gym needed to be shutdown.

"I was angry until he told me that they had to do their own towels," Press said. "I sort of felt sorry for them. Poor members of Congress, they're only getting paid a hundred seventy five thousand dollars a year, and they have to do their own towels."

"The staff gym, by the way, is closed," he continued. "The members gym is open. And then they have to do their own towels. I don't think many people are crying their hearts out about that tonight. Gimme a break."

No one answered the phone at offices for Braley in Washington and Iowa. As of Wednesday night, no one had returned an email sent to Braley by ABC7 asking about the comments.

Braley is taking a lot of heat on Twitter.

"Elitist Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley Upset That His Towel Boys Were Furloughed," read one tweet.

"HORROR! Dem Rep. Bruce Braley Complains He Has To Wash His Own Gym Towels Because of Government Shutdown," read another.

Click here for the interview (beginning at 1:37:00).

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