Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 2, 2015

Posts in "CVC"

May 26, 2015

Police Evacuate Capitol, CVC After Fire Alarm Goes Off

Capitol Police stand guard Tuesday outside the Capitol. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police stand guard Tuesday outside the Capitol. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:24 p.m. | Police evacuated the Capitol Tuesday after a fire alarm went off in the Capitol Visitor Center.

According to a source close to the investigation, “exhaust fan issues” caused the smoke to appear in a room in the CVC around 12:20 p.m., prompting Capitol Police officers to evacuate both that building and the Capitol. Full story

May 7, 2015

Lawmakers Push for Lower CVC Food Prices

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Amid complaints about wages for restaurant workers and allegations about retaliation against workers who went on strike, the Capitol Visitor Center is facing questions on another front: food prices.

The disparity between CVC food prices and those in other Capitol cafeterias has spurred constituent complaints, and House appropriators are taking action. Tucked into the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee report is a provision zeroing in on food prices at the CVC. Full story

April 28, 2015

CVC Workers Allege Retaliation After Strike (Video)

Duckett, third from the left, alleges that her manager cut her hours after the strike. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Duckett, third from the left, alleges her manager cut her hours after the strike. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two Capitol Visitor Center contract workers have filed an unfair labor practice complaint against their employer for allegedly retaliating against employees who participated in a strike last week.

“When I went into work on Thursday I was being harassed,” CVC cashier Kellie Duckett, 30, said in a Tuesday phone interview. “[The manager] cut my hours, she cut me and a co-worker’s hours, she was just pretty much following me around Thursday. And Friday is when she took me in her office and she threatened my job.” Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 3:31 p.m.
Campus, CVC

April 22, 2015

Senate Contractors to Join Federal Workers Strike at Capitol

Reginald Lewis (center), a CVC food services worker, goes on strike for higher wages in November. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reginald Lewis (center), a CVC food services worker, goes on strike for higher wages in November. ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Contract workers in the U.S. Senate will walk off their jobs Wednesday to join contractors from across the District of Columbia in a strike calling for preference to be given to contractors who offer better wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights.

The Senate janitors and food service workers will join workers from the Capitol Visitor Center, the Pentagon, Union Station, the National Zoo and Smithsonian Institution at the rally on the West Front of the Capitol Wednesday morning.   Full story

March 19, 2015

New CVC Exhibit Highlights Congressional Investigations

The Watergate burglar's address book that linked the White House to the break-in. (Photo courtesy of  Records of District Courts of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration).

The Watergate burglar’s address book that linked the White House to the break-in. (Courtesy
Records of District Courts of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration)

In the Capitol Visitor Center, behind the replica of the Statue of Freedom, a small address book sits in a glass case.

Under the name “HH” are two phone numbers: one for “home” and the other listed as “WH,” aka the White House.

The address book belonged to Watergate burglar Bernard Barker, and the HH stood for E. Howard Hunt, a former CIA officer who worked in the White House during President Richard M. Nixon’s administration.

Hunt directed the infamous break-in, and this small blue book helped link the burglary to the White House, ultimately leading to Nixon’s political demise.

It’s one of a number of artifacts on display in the CVC as part of a new “Congress Investigates” exhibit, highlighting congressional investigations spanning nearly 200 years. Every six months, the CVC displays documents in Exhibition Hall around a central theme and last week, latest display was unveiled.

“Investigations are a fascinating topic, and many of the investigations highlighted in the exhibit focused on important issues that are still relevant today,” CVC spokeswoman Sharon Gang wrote in an email. Gang said the exhibits “help illustrate the role of Congress in defining and helping to realize national goals and aspirations.”

Though the investigation into the Watergate break-in is one of the more high-profile probes in the exhibit, the documents on display highlight 18 different investigations that fall under general topics: exploration, common defense, unity, general welfare and knowledge. Each topic is tied to a congressional power dictated in the Constitution.

In a glass case for the exploration section sits S Res 283, dated April 17, 1912, which authorized an investigation into the Titanic disaster. In the next case is a handwritten House resolution dating back to 1792, which authorized the first congressional investigation into the executive branch. That probe delved into the defeat of Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair during a battle with American Indians.

Other investigations highlighted in the exhibit included the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., the 1929 stock market crash, Union Army defeats in the Civil War and cheating on TV game shows.

Gang said the artifacts, which range from resolutions and committee reports to newspaper articles and photographs, are on loan from the Library of Congress and the National Archives. CVC exhibit staff worked to develop the exhibit along with staff at Library of Congress, the National Archives and the House and Senate Historians’ offices.

In addition to displaying the documents, the exhibit also explains how the investigations sparked new policies. During the 1950s, Congress investigated how comic books were affecting a “dramatic rise in juvenile delinquency” and conducted televised hearings on the subject. After the hearings, comic book publishers revamped their content standards, though likely to the disappointment of a 14-year-old from Pennsylvania, whose letter displayed in the exhibit argued that comic books deter crime.

“The person or persons committing the crime always gets caught. The fear of this stops crime and stops juvenile delinquency,” the teen wrote in his June 1954 letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency. “In fact there is not a sufficient number of the comic books on the book stands.”

The final display explores limits to Congress’ investigative powers, highlighting a Supreme Court case in 1954 when labor organizer John Thomas Watkins questioned the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

“The Bill of Rights is applicable to congressional investigations, as it is to all forms of governmental action,” wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1957 opinion displayed in the exhibit.

Visitors to the Capitol can see these artifacts for themselves now until Congress Investigates closes on Sept. 12.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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By Bridget Bowman Posted at 5 a.m.
Campus, CVC

January 12, 2015

21 Guantánamo Protesters Arrested in the Capitol (Updated) (Video)

Protesters outside of the Hart Senate Office Building in July 2013. Some of the demonstrators arrested Monday were also wearing an orange jumpsuit and black hood. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Protesters outside of the Hart Senate Office Building in July 2013. Some of the demonstrators arrested Monday were also wearing an orange jumpsuit and black hood. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:31 p.m. | Nearly two dozen protesters from “Witness Against Torture,” a group dedicated to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were arrested in the Capitol Building Monday afternoon, after demonstrating in the Senate gallery and the Capitol Visitor Center.

According to the U.S. Capitol Police, 21 protesters were arrested: 11 in the Senate and 10 in the CVC. The gallery protesters were charged with disorderly conduct, while the CVC demonstrators were charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.” Full story

September 15, 2014

Beth Plemmons, the Capitol Visitor Center’s Guide to Southern Hospitality

Beth Plemmons, CEO for Visitor Services at the Capitol Visitor Center, is photographed near the senate side of the CVC, August 19, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Plemmons is CEO for Visitor Services at the Capitol Visitor Center. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

North Carolina native Beth Plemmons, CEO of visitor services at the Capitol Visitor Center, is a pro at Southern hospitality.

She spent 17 years working in reservations and ticketing positions at the grandiose 19th century Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., then transitioned to guest services at Virginia’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. The Virginia Tech alumna, who studied hotel, restaurant and institutional management, joined the leadership team of the CVC just a few months before the 580,000-foot complex’s Dec. 2, 2008, grand opening.

Touring the CVC with CQ Roll Call this August, Plemmons showed off her favorite item in the Exhibition Hall collection: a marble gavel and wooden triangle that Mount Vernon resident George Washington used to lay the Capitol’s cornerstone in 1793. She stopped just short of calling the Capitol grounds an estate at one point, explaining, “This is the first time I’ve ever not worked as part of an estate.”

Plemmons accepted her first federal government post “on the heels of some controversy,” she said during a wide-ranging interview about her six-year tenure. She took a job as director of visitor services after years of negative press about construction delays and the $621-million structure’s ever-increasing price tag. While such issues are in the rearview mirror, other contentious ones have bubbled up in the intervening years, particularly surrounding the relationship between managers and the front-line employees at the CVC — its tour guides.  Full story

September 5, 2014

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

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

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

July 22, 2014

Capitol Police Complete Investigation of Suspicious Substance in Capitol Visitor Center (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police investigating a suspicious substance Tuesday carry their equipment back to the hazmat truck after declaring the area clear. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 10:38 a.m. | Capitol Police sealed entrances to the Capitol Visitor Center shortly after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, in response to a suspicious substance.

Trapped groups of tourists and tour guides milled about in the main level, waiting for an all-clear so that they could enter the Capitol as police investigated in Emancipation Hall.

Escalators to and from the Capitol and outside entrances were ordered closed, as police implemented a shelter in place.

Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed the investigation to CQ Roll Call.

At about 9:50 a.m. Capitol Police radios began buzzing with the news that the suspicious substance tested negative and normal operations would soon resume, once the HAZMAT team cleared the scene.

A group of about 30 tourists who had been led out of the CVC theatre during the 45-minute investigation geared up for their tour of the Capitol. An officer joked with them that the well-rested CVC tour guides, also waiting for an all-clear signal, would show them a great time once operations resumed.

Shortly before 10 a.m., word spread that the doors and escalators were re-opening. A handful of Capitol employees who had been waiting in the Crypt boarded the escalator down to the CVC. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 9:39 a.m.
Capitol Police, CVC

June 5, 2014

Visiting the Capitol? There’s an App for That

(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

(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

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