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DC Government, Businesses Respond to Shutdown: Deals and Resources for Federal Employees

A list of shutdown deals and specials can be found at the bottom of this post. The list will be updated to reflect changes in specials. The original blog was written Dec. 28.

The government shutdown has left Washington, D.C. a shell of its regular self. Everything feels empty, and what remains seems out of order.

These past few mornings, my rush-hour bus ride – usually a half-hour, stop-and-go, sardine-packed lurch down Massachusetts Avenue – was a smooth, calm, 10-minute formality. I even showed up late to work this morning because my bus whizzed past my pick-up point four minutes early, before I was there.

I’m not blaming the shutdown for my tardiness – not exclusively at least, as WMATA always makes for a perfect scapegoat – but I am saying that the impact of 380,000 furloughs stretches far and wide beyond government buildings.

Residents miss their routines. And whether it’s the holiday hangover or government shutdown, the District of Columbia doesn’t feel like itself.

To be honest, there’s far more to worry about than uncongested streets and the vibe of a city right now. Cash is tight for many government families around the holidays, and that comes with dire consequences. Families are having to take up temporary jobs until the shutdown blows over, and government services around the country are stalled.

And the shutdown could continue for a while. President Trump is determined to get a large appropriation for his border wall, and many in Congress are just as steadfast in their opposition to it. Now there’s a new Congress, which floods more Democrats into a standoff that is already mired in division between the executive and legislative branches. While just about everyone hopes the shutdown ends soon, there’s an acknowledgement that this one has unique features relating to party, personnel and promises.

Those outside of federal government have experienced the ripple effect, and Washington, D.C. has been hit by the biggest wave. Recently, Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a letter to President Trump, urging him to quickly resolve the shutdown.

“During a shutdown, there are no winners and our nation’s federal workers, including the 170,000 federal employees who work in Washington, D.C., pay the highest price,” Bowser wrote.

Bowser announced on December 22, when the shutdown officially began, the “DC Is Open” campaign, with the hashtag #DCisOpen to connect the city despite furloughs.

On Friday, Bowser also extended the hours of unemployment offices around the city – now from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. – to support the claims of furloughed employees and contractors. Just days into the shutdown, the D.C. government had received 329 claims for unemployment insurance benefits from furloughed employees and contractors.

Local businesses are chipping in as well. There are deals throughout the city for a shutdown, and once again, there’s even a hashtag – #ShutdownSpecials – to advertise.

In the Washington, D.C. region, the shared acknowledgment of government workers has created some sense of community. So as we all try to find some semblance of normalcy during the government shutdown, here are some deals that government employees can take advantage of while off of work.



Food & Drink

  • Satellite Room: $2 pizza slices, and “Slice and Shot” combos
  • Ten Tigers$7 “Sapporo and Shot” combos with government ID
  • ThinkFoodGroup RestaurantsFederal employees receive free sandwich from 2-5 p.m. at the bar for the duration of the shutdown
  • &pizza: Government employees receive a free pie from 6 to 8 p.m. for the duration of the shutdown (updated)
  • Baked by YaelAcross the street from the National Zoo, free coffee for federal employees and contractors during the shutdown “while supplies last”
  • Capitol Lounge: $5 cocktails for federal employees with government ID every day of the week during the shutdown
  • The Queen Vic British Pub: 18 percent off for all federal employees with government ID during the shutdown
  • City Tap: Happy Hour is extended from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the shutdown
  • The Brighton: 10 percent off for federal employees with ID
  • Brookland’s Finest: Happy Hour pricing on drinks with government ID
  • Catch 22: 15 percent off for all federal workers with ID or badge
  • The Big Stick: 18 percent off food and Happy Hour prices from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. with government ID
  • City Winery DC: $1 glass of City Winery Wine with government photo ID
  • Carmine’s: Free sliders from 2-4 p.m., Happy Hour all day at the bar and “The Hard Times” cocktail for $6 with federal ID
  • District DonutComplimentary cup of coffee with any purchase and a federal ID
  • Ornery Beer Company: With federal ID, 25 percent off your meal and a guest
  • Atlas Brew Works: With a government ID, federal employees and contractors get 15 percent off in the Tap Room
  • Bark!: Not your traditional grub, but with a government ID, grab a free bag of pet food


  • b.fit$5 barre classes with government ID
  • Fibre Space: Free Learn to Knit classes for federal employees and donated knit kits
  • Flow Yoga: $5 drop-in “furlough-friendly” classes 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday with a federal ID
  • Epic Yoga DC$10 walk-in yoga classes with government ID
  • Capitol Hill Arts WorkshopFree furlough watercolor classes with teaching artist Nancy Arbuthnot with reservation by calling (202) 547-6839


  • I.M.P. Venues: Buy a ticket, get one free to 9:30 Club, The Anthem, Lincoln Theatre and 9:30 Presents at U Street Music Hall with code 930Freebie if the show is not sold out
  • Rock and Roll Hotel: Free rock concert for federal employees, with $15 admittance for others

If you happen to be away for the weekend, even New York is getting in on the action of helping out government employees.

In the meantime, keep up with GovLoop for the latest news and resources surrounding the shutdown.

Update (Jan. 2):

The Smithsonian Institute announced that all 19 of its museums will be closed starting Jan. 2 for the duration of the shutdown. The National Zoo, which is operated by the institute, will be closed to the public, while its animals will continue to be cared for.

On Dec. 22, the Smithsonian Institute revealed that it would spend prior-year funds to keep its doors open through New Year’s Day. However, the government shutdown means that the institute has no funding yet for 2019.

Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are always free to the public. Popular museums include the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery and the Renwick Gallery.

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