While Democrats and Republicans bickered over raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit, the federal government was still making money. It may seem more like a yard sale than a Costco superstore, unless Costco is selling a lovable 23-year-old pack mule named Brandon. The mule, which measures 16 hands and tips the scales at 1,300 pounds, is a castoff from the U.S. Forest Service in Tonasket, Washington, and is listed on the U.S. federal government property auction website, run through the General Services Administration (GSA).
According to a GSA official, Brandon and hundreds of other random and surprising items must clear a 21-day hold so that other government agencies have a chance to claim the items for free. If no agency steps forward to snap up the items, they become surplus and are made available to the public.
The items span from old and abused office parts (typewriters, chairs, desks and more) to discarded supplies from NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Symbolic of at least one branch of the federal government amid the current debt talks, many items either don’t work or are falling apart – and in some cases, are downright unsafe. (Rusty corkscrews, anyone?) GSA launched the site in 2001, raking in approximately $665 million. While proceeds from the sales typically go toward buying new supplies, profits are also transferred directly to the Treasury, according to GSA.