Reports this year show that the Senate Hair Care Services, a private salon and barbershop in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building, has cost taxpayers over $5 million over the last 15 years.
The barbers, manicurists, and stylists that run the Senate Hair Care Services are reportedly paid at least $40,000 a year each, with the head barber apparently making close to $80,000 a year.
The service, which patrons now have to pay for, has been provided to Senators, their families, and building employees since the 19th century, but now, due to sequestrations, there is talk of it being privatized.
"It's time," said Senator John McCain to the New York Times "In fact, I was talking to some of my friends there the other day, and they said they recognized too that the time has come."
Terrence Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, said recently that some of the Hair Care Services employees accepted buyouts, and because of that, private contractors are being hired to replace them. These contractors will not receive federal benefits and pensions like the past employees did, and Gainer says he hopes that he eventually use all private contractors.
“Listen, I readily realize that may not meet the timetable of a lot of people who say, ‘What is the legislative branch doing in the hair care business?’” said Gainer to the New York Times, in response criticism that his actions are too slow. “It’s a service organization that has a 100-year-plus history here. It’s undergone a lot of changes, and I’m slowly but surely trying to get it out of the red.”
Contrary to popular belief, the barbershop is actually open to the public. If a Senator comes in looking for a haircut, however, an everyday outsider will be bumped. While the prices at the Senate Hair Care Services may be lower than other places, the fact that federal money is being spent on the salaries and benefits of the employees at the hands of the taxpayers angers many. It is now known when or even if the barbershop/salon will be completely privatized.