Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 27, 2014

Posts in "AOC"

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

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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

June 5, 2014

Visiting the Capitol? There’s an App for That

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(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Early Wednesday afternoon, Daidis Mayedo peered up at the Capitol Dome through the lens of her iPhone camera.

She snapped some pictures of the Statue of Freedom and of her daughter, Claudia Garcia, who was having her own iPhone photo shoot on the East Front. Mayedo then reviewed the images through her dark sunglasses.

The mother-daughter duo, in town from Franklin, Tenn., appeared completely absorbed with the content on their screens, like many of the tourists milling about the Capitol grounds that afternoon. Capitol Visitor Center staff are convinced the campus-wide iPhone fixation can help enhance the tourists’ experience. In other words: Visiting the Capitol? There’s an app for that.

Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:19 p.m.
AOC, Campus, CVC

May 22, 2014

Falling Debris Temporarily Closes Rotunda

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While giving a tour, Meehan finds the Rotunda closed after debris fell from the area in the Capitol on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Rotunda was closed to traffic around 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, after a small piece of debris related to work on the Capitol Dome restoration project fell to the ground.

Sources on the scene said the falling debris narrowly missed a person standing in the Rotunda. Capitol Police alerted the Capitol Hill community to the closure and quickly cleared the space. No one was injured in the incident, according to department spokesman Shennell Antrobus, and the area reopened shortly after 3 p.m.

Inside the empty Rotunda, workers in Architect of the Capitol hard hats and bright construction vests moved along the scaffolding ringing the room. They appeared to be adjusting the 6,100-pound doughnut of safety netting that was erected in mid-April to protect members, visitors and staff from falling debris. A handful of contractors convened in the center of the room, pointing up at the activity and assessing the scene.

Capitol Police officers guarding the entrances to the Rotunda diverted tour groups, staff and members, including Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., from the space.

About 30 minutes into the closure, a hard hat tumbled to the ground, startling some bystanders.

Architect of the Capitol spokesman Justin Kieffer released a statement at 2:30 p.m., informing the public of the reason for the closure.

“The closure is out of an abundance of caution to allow inspections to the protective canopy in the Rotunda after a small piece of protective padding between the scaffold and Rotunda walls dislodged,” Kieffer said.

He released another statement after the Rotunda reopened.

“The Architect of the Capitol directed the Dome Restoration contractor to more securely fasten the padding,” he said. “They also performed a thorough inspection of the scaffolding and canopy, which were found to be secure.”

By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:27 p.m.
AOC, Campus

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