Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 1, 2014

Posts in "AOC"

September 15, 2014

Capitol Hill Employees Concerned About July 10 Asbestos Exposure

asbestos 03 080107 440x292 Capitol Hill Employees Concerned About July 10 Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was also a concern in 2007, as shown by Scott Smith, U.S. Capitol Power Plant worker, during a House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing on “Capitol Power Plant Utility Tunnels.” (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The asbestos emergency that temporarily closed the House side of the Capitol was a scary ordeal for Architect of the Capitol and Capitol Police employees working the overnight shift.

Union officials representing workers at both agencies told CQ Roll Call they are concerned about potential exposure to the human carcinogen, which can cause chronic lung disease as well as cancer. The Office of Compliance, an agency created by Congress to ensure safety in the legislative branch workplace, has been asked to inspect the incident for an alleged violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Asbestos fibers and other debris were released into the air around 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m., when AOC contractors removing insulation containing asbestos from pipes and valves on the Capitol’s fourth floor had an accident above the East Grand Staircase. Most of Capitol Hill learned about the incident hours later, when doors to the House side of the Capitol were closed as engineers and certified industrial hygienists evaluated the scene. Full story

September 5, 2014

Capitol Tour Guides Say They’ve Lost the Right to Drink Water

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Capitol tour guides say CVC management has made it nearly impossible to drink water during their physically demanding workdays. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“No food, no drinks,” instructed Capitol Police officers posted outside the doors of the Capitol Visitor Center as tourists approached the complex on a recent muggy day.

A blonde woman sporting a ponytail and backpack drained her 8-ounce plastic bottle and held it up to show the cops it was empty. She was waved toward the doors.

While visitors are allowed to carry water bottles, and can fill them up once they are inside, the guides who spend eight hours a day walking them through the Capitol and talking about Congress complain that their access to water has been severely limited by CVC management. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:46 p.m.
AOC, CVC

August 25, 2014

Christmas in August? Boehner Planning for Capitol Tree

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The 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree arrived in November from Washington state. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

A 65-foot spruce or balsam fir growing somewhere along Minnesota’s Paul Bunyan Trail will stand on the West Front Lawn this winter.

The North Star State’s Chippewa National Forest will provide the Capitol Christmas Tree this year, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, announced Monday.

This year marks the second time the forest has provided the prominent evergreen. In 1992, Chippewa National Forest and Leech Lake Reservation sent a 60-foot white spruce to Washington, D.C., along with thousands of ornaments made by local school children. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:22 p.m.
AOC, Campus

August 22, 2014

Lights May Go Out on Capitol Dome Friday Night

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The Dome may go dark tonight. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t be alarmed if the lights flicker outside the Capitol Dome Friday night. The enduring beacon of freedom isn’t dead — it’s undergoing regular maintenance.

The Architect of the Capitol is cautioning that brief power outages may occur as the agency performs planned maintenance to the electrical systems in the building. AOC spokeswoman Laura Condeluci assured CQ Roll Call the work is not related to the Dome restoration project, which has picked up pace during the August recess.

AOC electricians are responsible for thousands of miles of wiring and more than 100,000 light fixtures across Capitol Hill, according to the agency. Because many of the historic buildings on campus, including the Capitol, were built before electricity, they require continuous modernization and upgrades.

Full story

August 15, 2014

Break Room Fire Causes Evacuation at Capitol Power Plant

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(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Capitol Power Plant was briefly evacuated Friday afternoon, as firefighters responded to a small fire in the break room.

Around 3:45 p.m., Capitol Police sent out an alert to notify the campus community that the complex on E Street Southeast was being evacuated due to signs of smoke. Fortunately, it was not an industrial blaze, but a small fire in an area with paper products, according to department spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:05 p.m.
AOC, Capitol Police

August 11, 2014

Capitol Dome Restoration Work Picks Up Pace During August Recess

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Workers erect scaffolding around the Capitol Dome on Aug. 4. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

August recess is peak construction season for the nearly $60 million restoration of the Capitol Dome.

Up to now, the majority of the work on the 8.9 million pound cast-iron structure that has topped the Capitol for more than 150 years took place at night and on weekends to ensure minimal disruption to congressional business, events and public tours.

With members of the House and Senate back home in their districts, construction crews have been piecing together the vast scaffolding structure that will encase the 288 foot edifice for approximately two years. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:08 p.m.
AOC, Campus

August 8, 2014

‘House of Cards’ Film Crew Hits National Mall on Saturday

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Could more filming be coming to the Capitol grounds? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“House of Cards” is filming around the National Mall on Saturday, according to the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development.

It’s unlikely fans of the wildly popular Netflix series will spot stars Kevin Spacey or Robin Wright during the 10-hour set. Crews will be “shooting ‘drive-bys’, b-roll, and a mock-motorcade scene,” says a notice posted on the agency’s site.

Local officials would love to have the show, which shoots most of its scenes in Baltimore and other areas, do more production in the District, but filming in D.C. has its challenges — especially on the Capitol grounds. Full story

August 4, 2014

Should D.C. Fine the House for Stocking Cafeterias With Styrofoam?

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Honda hopes D.C.’s ban on the use of Styrofoam puts pressure on the House. (Bill Clark/ CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Plastic foam food containers will be banned from use in the District of Columbia beginning in 2016, but the material still reigns supreme in House cafeterias.

Democrats who chided Republicans for reinstituting Styrofoam when they took control of the House in 2011 want to see the old standard replaced with an environmentally friendly alternative, as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did when she was speaker. Pelosi’s “Green the Capitol” initiative included compostable utensils and takeout trays, but it was nixed after financial criticism and was folded into existing sustainability efforts managed by the Architect of the Capitol.

Though the local Styrofoam ban, signed into law by Mayor Vincent Gray in late July, is not applicable to the Capitol grounds, some Democrats hope it could reopen the dialogue about how House cafeterias are stocked.

“Maybe they should fine the Hill,” suggested Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., a former legislative branch appropriator who spoke out against the GOP’s choice to begin using the plastic foam packaging again in 2011. He said then that it exposed his staff, colleagues and constituents to known health risks. Full story

July 15, 2014

Don Young Said to Have Barged Through Barriers Blocking Asbestos Spill

energy presser001 032912 440x284 Don Young Said to Have Barged Through Barriers Blocking Asbestos Spill

Sources say that Young, center, did not abide by Capitol Police officers warnings to stop. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Asbestos abatement continues following the July 10 outbreak that briefly closed the House side of the Capitol, and one congressman might be in hot water for his conduct that morning.

Republican Rep. Don Young, the self-described “alpha wolf” of Alaska politics, allegedly barged through the police line established to prevent members of Congress and staff from entering the Capitol following the spill.

According to multiple sources, Young told an officer trying to stop him from entering the Capitol: “I don’t care if the building is closed,” cursed at the cop, then barged into the scene of the cleanup. A call went out over the Capitol Police radios about the incident, according to officers who are not authorized to speak for the department.

Full story

July 10, 2014

House Side of U.S. Capitol Reopens After Asbestos Spill

 House Side of U.S. Capitol Reopens After Asbestos Spill

Cleanup continued at the House side of the Capitol after an asbestos spill. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

The House side of the U.S. Capitol reopened at 9 a.m. after being briefly closed this morning so that Capitol Police and a hazardous materials team could address an asbestos spill that had occurred overnight. Portions of the building, though, will remain closed throughout the day. House leaders decided not to convene morning hour at 10 a.m. due to the accident, but were expected to go ahead with legislative business at noon.

The House side returned to normal operations fairly quickly, including tours (House and South Doors are open). However, the East Grand staircase on the House side from floors 1 through 3 and room H-324 will remain closed until further notice.

“During ongoing asbestos abatement work there was a potential release affecting the House side of the Capitol,” AOC spokeswoman Laura Condeluci said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “Samples have been collected to determine whether there was potential exposure. The Architect of the Capitol and the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating and will provide updates when available.”

Capitol Police temporarily closed the House door and south door, even as the south barricade remained open.

Pedestrian traffic proceeded as usual across the East Front. Architect of the Capitol employees brushed portions on the pavement, as staffers, tourists and Capitol Police crisscrossed the scene, even as a chemical smell lingered in the air. The plaza in front of the House steps was soaked, and what appeared to be yellow hazmat suits were draped from posts on the south side of the door, near a Capitol Police cruiser.

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 8:49 a.m.
AOC, Capitol Police

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