Top Treasury Department staff works through the federal snow day

By David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Talk about a snow-day killjoy.

Shortly after the federal government announced that it would close for Monday -- cue the yelping for joy around Washington -- the office of the executive secretary for Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner sent out a message to its staff.

You may have heard the government will be closed tomorrow, the e-mail read. Secretary Geithner will be keeping his schedule. Please let me know when you'll be here.

Cue the groans.

Early Monday, the staff of the executive secretary, along with the Treasury's top officials, showed up to work, rushing to meetings through the mostly empty hallways of the Treasury building.

Under intense pressure to reverse the soaring unemployment rate and to address mounting federal deficits, Geithner's top aides worked straight through the great snowstorm of 2010. Some said they couldn't afford to take a day off, blizzard or not. The secretary had to be prepped for Capitol Hill testimony on the federal budget, scheduled for Wednesday. Initiatives to spark lending for small businesses urgently needed finalizing. And a proposed budget commission required in-depth discussions.

The fragile economy doesn't bear weather delays, as one official put it.

Several officials said it wasn't hard getting to work. A few top aides, who commute every weekend from their homes in the New York area, seemed to have an easier time on Amtrak than those who had to trudge through the snow from closer sites such as Logan Circle.

In light of the poor weather conditions, most officials dressed casually in jeans and snow boots.

Standing out amid the scruffy commuters was Geithner, who strolled into the Treasury building in a crisp navy suit, white shirt and lighter blue tie, pristinely dressed as usual.

If Geithner seemed untouched by the snow, it may have been because he missed the storm altogether. On Friday, he flew to Iqaluit in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, near the Arctic Circle, for a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from seven of the world's largest economies. His plane was delayed in Boston on Saturday night, but he touched down to sunny skies in Washington on Sunday morning.

He saw no snowfall over the weekend on an arctic journey away from the blizzards that pummeled his home far to the south.

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