Commentary: Please, please turn off the water to the White House

Scott Martelle, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Op Eds

Just call him President Deadbeat.

With the partial government shutdown sputtering along, different government agencies are unable to pay not only employees, but also some basic bills.

Apparently that includes the White House. You know, where President Donald Trump lives.

And apparently that includes the president's water bill.

The online site DCist reports that DC Water, the municipal utility, received an email from Treasury officials Jan. 2 indicating that the government would not be paying $5 million of its $16.5 million quarterly water and sewage bill (the federal government is the utility's biggest customer) because of the shutdown.

The utility's chief financial officer, Matthew Brown, delivered the news during the board's Jan. 3 meeting.

"That brings up an interesting question," board chair Tommy Wells said. "Is there a time from nonpayment when we cut someone's water off?"

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"1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is that what you're talking about?" someone asked off-camera, drawing laughter.

As a practical matter, it would take a much longer shutdown before that happens. DC Water can shut off service after 30 days, and place a lien after 60 days, and neither seems likely since the government eventually will be good for the debt.

But it's fun to contemplate.

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