WASHINGTON — Inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda, U.S. Sen. John Boozman encouraged his guests to look up at the frieze painted some 60 feet above that circles the dome and depicts scenes of American history.

WASHINGTON — Inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda, U.S. Sen. John Boozman encouraged his guests to look up at the frieze painted some 60 feet above that circles the dome and depicts scenes of American history.


"It is designed to look three dimensional," said Boozman, R-Ark.


Randy and Phyllis Bridges of Fort Smith and Fayetteville residents Walter Robinson and wife Carol Van Scyoc stand rapt, absorbing the sites and the historic details that Boozman offered Thursday morning on a 90-minute long tour of the Capitol.


Across the rotunda, Sen. Deb Stabenow, D-Mich., was giving a similar tour to a large group of school children in from White Lakes, Mich.


Boozman and Stabenow, who serve together on the Senate Agriculture Committee, greeted each other — all smiles despite the angst of a third day of gridlock that has shuttered much of the federal government, including the public guided tours of the U.S. Capitol.


"We’re working hard on the farm bill," Boozman told the school children.


"We work very closely together," Stabenow replied. "Everything gets done because we listen to each other."


While the Senate has passed a farm bill with significant bipartisan support, a final version has not been worked out with the House and as of Tuesday, farm policies reverted back to those set in law in the 1940s.


Similarly, Congress has not approved appropriation bills for the current fiscal year and efforts to approve a stopgap measure have also failed. The spending stalemate has led to a government shutdown that was in its third day Thursday with no signs of relief.


Visitors arriving in the nation’s capital this week have found closed doors at the Smithsonian museums, no entry up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and public tours of the U.S. Capitol cancelled.


Boozman, Stabenow and several other lawmakers have provided some visitors with personal tours of the Capitol. The public is otherwise not allowed entry into the building during the shutdown.


Robinson, who owns Mr. Bluebird Mini Mall in Fayetteville, and his wife came to Washington, D.C., this week for a family wedding. They called Boozman’s office earlier in the week to schedule a visit. She is an optometrist and has known Boozman for years.


Randy and Phyllis Bridges came to Washington this week because he is attending a conference on children and mental health. Randy is director of student services for Fort Smith Public Schools. Phyllis teaches civics at Chaffin Junior High.


"We were hoping that everything would be open but we knew with the shutdown that most of the sites would be closed. His office was wonderful," Randy Bridges said.


Boozman spent about 90 minutes with the couples, as well as Van Scyoc’s nephew and son from South Carolina, touring the Capitol. They sat in the galleries above the Senate and House chambers as each was in session. They visited the Crypt that was originally designed as a final resting place for George Washington. And, they stood on the speaker’s patio overlooking the National Mall.


"You could spend hours here on a tour," Boozman confided.


Boozman offered up some pieces of trivia: Off the rotunda and out of the public’s view is a couch where John Quincy Adams died. The Ohio Clock, outside the Senate chamber, was used during Prohibition to stow illicit liquor. And, it is supposedly good luck to rub the shoe of the bronze statue of Will Rogers.


Phyllis Bridges said she was grateful to have been able to see lawmakers debating in the House and Senate.


"Sometimes it is hard to relate when you just see a clip on C-Span, but to hear an actual debate and discussion and know that is our history of lawmaking," she said.


As to how lawmakers are doing now, Bridges offered a polite response: "I think they need to work together a little better."