Here’s a Real Budget Cut: Senate Barbers

Friday, March 29, 2013

Budget cuts brought on by sequestration are impacting the U.S. Senate’s private barbershop, which has been losing money for years.


Formally known as the Senate Hair Care Services, the Senate barbershop, located in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building, will begin undergoing privatization to cut down the operation’s red ink.


In the past, the shop lost as much as $500,000 a year, largely because of the generous pay and benefits received by the barbers.


The top four barbers and stylists last year made between $54,000 and $81,000, while enjoying a generous 401(k) plan, health care and paid vacation. By hiring private contractors to cut senators’ hair, the shop expects to lose only $100,000 annually. The House of Representatives barbershop was privatized in 1995.


First established in 1859, the Senate barbershop has been open to the public since the 1970s, but senators get priority. Up until 1979, haircuts were free to senators. Then a charge of $3.50 was imposed, and today a basic trim costs about $20 (plus tip). Senators can also have their eyebrows trimmed for $15.


Defending the salaries of the Senate barbers, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer told The New York Times, “Those guys work hard. And you don’t want just anybody playing around with razors and scissors. Especially in this place.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Latest Victims of Budget Woes Know Cuts Well (by Jeremy Peters, New York Times)

A Lot Off the Top (by Mark Stricherz, The Daily)


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