Congress freezes under piles of snow

A little girl sleds down Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: Washington and much of the East Coast is shut down again this morning. The second big snowstorm in less than a week has hit the region. The federal government's been down all week,
now Congress has cancelled most of its work. We're going to get the latest on how this is affecting government and commerce. Brett Neely is in our Marketplace Washington bureau. Hi Brett.

Brett Neely: Hi, Steve.

Chiotakis: What does it cost to shut down the government?

Neely: Well, the government estimates that lost productivity on a snow day costs at about $100 million. It's been closed since about midday last Friday, so we're already at about $350 million, and it may be closed for the rest of the week, too. It's not really a holiday, though, for the 230,000 government workers around D.C. -- a lot of them are working from home on Blackberries and laptops.

Chiotakis: And what was supposed to happen on Capitol Hill this week that's gotten pushed back?

Neely: Lots. Safety regulators and Toyota executives, for example, were supposed to testify today about recalls of that car company. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke was supposed to testify about the Fed's exit strategy from the financial crisis -- his testimony is going online instead. And the House and Senate wanted to pass a jobs bill this week -- not gonna happen either; a lot of senators and congressman are stuck, can't get back into the city.

Chiotakis: And let's talk about that, how's travel being affected, Brett?

Neely: Not great. Amtrak hasn't been running a full schedule since the last storm, and airports up and down the East Coast have been closed -- something like 2,000 flights have been cancelled nationwide because of this storm.

Chiotakis: My goodness. All right Brett Neely, stay warm all right? Hunker down there in Washington, we appreciate it.

Neely: Thanks a lot, Steve.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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