Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2014

Posts in "AOC"

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

June 5, 2014

Visiting the Capitol? There’s an App for That

tourist 01 042611 440x288 Visiting the Capitol? Theres an App for That

(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

rotunda 228 052214 440x283 Falling Debris Temporarily Closes Rotunda

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

May 2, 2014

Senate Bids Fond Goodbye to Russell Subway Conductor Daryl Chappelle

chapelle 001 050114 440x287 Senate Bids Fond Goodbye to Russell Subway Conductor Daryl Chappelle

Chappelle directs a group of visitors from his driver’s seat on the Russell Senate train in the Capitol on Thursday. After 41 years of working in the Senate, he is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For nearly two decades, Russell train conductor Daryl Chappelle has been lightening the mood of somber senators boarding the subway system that connects the chamber’s offices to the Capitol.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., credits Chappelle’s “legendary smile” for warming his spirits “on days when I was really down in the dumps.”

“He just always has that happy smile, wishing you well, making your day just a little bit better,” Durbin reflected on the Senate floor Thursday.

Chappelle has taken an estimated 130,000 trips between the Russell Building and the Capitol since he started driving the train in 1986. Thursday marked his final day on the job, after 41 years of service to the Capitol. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 8:05 a.m.
AOC, Staffers

April 30, 2014

Rotunda Reopens Thursday, Topped by 6,100-Pound Doughnut

rotunda 314 043014 440x274 Rotunda Reopens Thursday, Topped by 6,100 Pound Doughnut

Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers points to the protective canopy covering most of the Capitol Rotunda ceiling during his news conference on the reopening of the Rotunda to tourists on Wednesday. The Rotunda was closed while construction crews prepared the space for the restoration of the Capitol dome. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A giant white doughnut, clocking in at 6,100 pounds, graces the upper reaches of the Capitol Rotunda.

The Capitol Hill community will get its first glimpse of the thick layers of safety netting ringing the 96-foot room on Thursday morning, when the space reopens – two days after originally scheduled.

They had better get used to the view. The doughnut will be in place for at least 18 months, Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers said Wednesday night in a briefing for media.

Five layers thick, the doughnut has been specially tailored to protect those traversing the space from falling debris during the Capitol Dome restoration. If the netting was unrolled it would span 14,700 square feet — an area approximately the size of two tennis courts. Ayers said it could capture and hold as much as 500 pounds of debris.

Visitors can still see the Apotheosis of Washington spanning the ceiling, though the thick netting casts some shadows on the fresco. Other artwork in the Rotunda, including the eight historic paintings ringing its perimeter, remained covered by protective materials on Wednesday night. Ayers said it will be removed over the next few days.

“We watched the contractors carefully,” he said, referring to the 19 days crews worked on the closed Rotunda. “They didn’t do any damage.”

Ayers is confident the entire restoration will be completed in time for 2017 inauguration activities.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 6:26 p.m.

April 29, 2014

Rotunda Reopening Delayed, but Dome Restoration on Schedule

dome 251 042814 440x275 Rotunda Reopening Delayed, but Dome Restoration on Schedule

The Rotunda remains closed. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Rotunda remains closed Tuesday despite plans to reopen the space after a 17-day closure related to the Capitol Dome restoration.

According to a spokesman for Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers, the contractor placing the safety netting within the Rotunda has not completed the installation as scheduled and continues working around the clock.

“During installation of the structural supports for the safety netting system, field engineers determined modifications were required and they have been completed,” AOC spokesman Justin Kieffer said in statement on the 18th day of closure.

Keiffer said the overall Dome Restoration — a two-year, $59.55 million project — remains on schedule, and more information is expected Tuesday afternoon.

Ayers was scheduled to brief media on the reopening and provide a status update on the restoration.

The Rotunda has been closed since April 12 to allow workers to install a white catenary system in the interior. The doughnut-shaped configuration, placed above the “Frieze of American History,” will protect the public while allowing “The Apotheosis of Washington” to be seen during the restoration process.

In the meantime, tour guides and congressional staffers will continue using an alternate tour route, as they have for the past two weeks, diverting visitors around the closed Rotunda.

“The safety of visitors, staff and Members of Congress is always the Architect of the Capitol’s first priority and we will provide an update when the Rotunda will reopen,” Keiffer said. ”The AOC regrets any inconvenience this may cause.”

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:53 a.m.

April 28, 2014

How Much Do Congressional Contractors Make? It Depends

Democrats have championed pay issues on Capitol Hill, promoting equal pay for women, pushing legislation that would increase the minimum wage and praising President Barack Obama for imposing his policies on federal contractors.

New executive orders to bar federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with each other and require them to provide compensation data based on gender and race have won praise from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as “concrete actions to advance the equal pay effort.”

But the administration’s new rules, including an executive order to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for workers on new government contracts, only apply to companies that contract with the executive branch. The contract employees of the legislative branch — workers performing a broad range of jobs around Capitol Hill, ranging from technology support and construction, to security, food and janitorial services — are not necessarily affected. Full story

April 15, 2014

Despite Capitol Renovations, Plenty of Action for Tourists on Campus

rotunda 064 040714 440x119 Despite Capitol Renovations, Plenty of Action for Tourists on Campus

The Capitol Rotunda, House Floor and other parts of the campus are closed to visitors for renovations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress has skipped town, so it’s time to cut a rug.

A cart full of carpeting sat parked in the Speaker’s Lobby on Tuesday morning, as workers ripped the flooring around members’ desks in the House chamber. The 10-day carpet renovation is one of the many maintenance projects happening around the Capitol during the two-week recess. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:23 p.m.
AOC, House Admin

April 11, 2014

Crane Arrives on East Front Friday Night, Rotunda Closes Saturday

rotunda 066 040714 440x292 Crane Arrives on East Front Friday Night, Rotunda Closes Saturday

Tourists took final glimpses at the interior of the Rotunda before the 17-day closure. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Friday offered the final chance for Capitol Hill employees and visitors to glimpse Constantino Brumidi’s “Apotheosis of Washington” fresco before the Rotunda’s 17-day closure as part of ongoing Dome restorations.

The artwork lining the walls of the iconic space has been caged in scaffolding in preparation for the work being done from Saturday, April 12 through Monday, April 28, 2014 as part of the Architect of the Capitol’s Dome Restoration Project. Protective wood flooring is also in place.

By 10 p.m., a crane is expected to park on the East Front of the Capitol Plaza for an overnight delivery to support installation of materials needed to install safety netting in the Rotunda. It should depart around 6 a.m. on Saturday.

In the meantime, the area will be “taped off and clearly marked,” according to Justin Kieffer, the Architect of the Capitol’s spokesman for the project.

Beginning this weekend, the elegant Brumidi painting spanning 4,664 square feet in the eye of the Rotunda will disappear from view. During the 17-day closure, the Capitol tour route will be changed. Both Capitol Visitor Center tour guides and staffers have been instructed to avoid the construction and take tourists on an alternate route, developed by the CVC.

When the Rotunda reopens, President George Washington’s ascent to the heavens will again be visible through a doughnut-shaped fabric canopy, in place for the duration of the interior Dome restoration work. The fabric will protect the fresco that is suspended 180 feet above the Rotunda floor.

Those traversing the Rotunda during the first and final stages of the project will have to pass through a covered, 96-foot walkway, assembled to protect passersby from canopy construction.

The last time the Capitol community braced for significant exterior renovation of the Dome was 1959. Since then, the elements have taken their toll, resulting in more than 1,300 cracks.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:01 p.m.

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