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

Posts in "House Admin"

October 30, 2014

No Changes at Capitol Following Jeh Johnson’s Security Upgrade

police 044 051412 440x285 No Changes at Capitol Following Jeh Johnsons Security Upgrade

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The recent order to beef up security at federal buildings does not appear to have resulted in any changes for the men and women guarding Congress. On Wednesday, a day after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ordered enhanced protection against the threat of terrorism for government buildings in Washington and across the country, it was business as usual on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police stood guard around campus, patrol cars circled the perimeter and typical screening procedures stayed in place.

When asked about Capitol Police response, spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider told CQ Roll Call that the department “remains at a post-9/11 heightened level of awareness [and] continues to monitor and track global events.”

One cop on a mountain bike playfully kicked the seat of another officer’s bike as they wheeled around the Peace Circle at noon. Around 1 p.m. inside the Dirksen Senate Office Building, police patted down a man outfitted wearing a white turban and robe who declined to remove garments for the metal detectors.

Down the hall from the first floor entrance, staffers were learning how to respond to an active shooter incident. The Senate sergeant-at-arms developed the hour-long training in coordination with the Capitol Police in 2011. It is one of the highest-attended courses the SAA offers.

The attacks on Canadian Parliament last week prompted no significant changes to security around the grounds, Capitol Police said at the time. Johnson cited that violence and other world events in his announcement of new directions for the Federal Protective Service.

Members of Congress with jurisdiction over day-to-day operations, including Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Charles E. Schumer, did not indicate they were aware of any changes in protocol.

House Administration Chairman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., is kept up-to-date on the status of security of our Capitol facilities, a spokesperson for the committee responded, when asked if there had been any briefings related to the DHS announcement.

Related:

Terrorism Threat Prompts Jeh Johnson to Order Security Upgrade at Federal Buildings

Capitol Police Monitoring Canadian Parliament Shooting (Updated)

Former Top Cop Suggest Capitol Complex Is Too Open

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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October 9, 2014

Congress’ Doctor: Ebola Precautions Are in Place

silence003 091114 440x292 Congress Doctor: Ebola Precautions Are in Place

On Sept. 11, Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed for relief from Ebola during an event in the Senate Swamp. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

With fear of an Ebola outbreak on the rise, the attending physician of Congress is assuring the congressional community that a carefully developed protocol is in place at the Capitol to handle a potential infectious disease outbreak.

In an eight minute video posted on an internal website, Dr. Brian Monahan gave an overview of Ebola’s spread and said the medical personnel at the Office of the Attending Physician ”always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis.”

That includes basic hand hygiene and using protective equipment to block splashes or other contact with bodily fluids when treating everyone from sick senators to injured tourists. The attending physician operates 10 clinics, located in the Capitol, the House and Senate office buildings, the Supreme Court and the Capitol Visitor Center. Full story

October 3, 2014

House Says Goodbye to Styrofoam

longworth001 072407 440x301 House Says Goodbye to Styrofoam

Staffers have already noticed new food containers in Longworth. (CQ Roll Call File Photo).

Food containers in the House became more environmentally friendly last week, as paper containers have started to take the place of their plastic foam counterparts.

Dan Weiser, spokesman for the chief administrative officer, could not say whether the new containers are more expensive because the CAO does not comment on contracts. But, Weiser said, “Food prices are not going to go up.”

House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., and ranking member Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., announced the change on Tuesday. They noted the new containers will be phased in “once existing inventories have depleted.” Full story

October 1, 2014

House Caucus Rules Could Change for 114th Congress

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Scalise wants to make caucuses “more professional and transparent.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nearly two decades after former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., terminated bank accounts for congressional caucuses and ordered them to vacate their Capitol Hill offices, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is aiming to amend House rules governing the member organizations.

Scalise told a House Rules panel convened recently to talk about proposals for the 114th Congress that he wants to build on the changes implemented under Gingrich, with the goal of making caucuses “more professional and transparent.”

The Louisiana Republican formerly served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, one of the 28 caucuses Gingrich sought to eliminate in 1995. The RSC has survived, and thrived, with more than 170 members among its ranks, and Scalise appears to be aiming to strengthen its operations. Scalise shared examples of administrative struggles and asked for a re-examination of the rules governing caucuses. He did not offer specifics, just the outcome of more desired transparency. Full story

September 3, 2014

Staffers Criticize Security Changes at House Garages

camaro003 050107 440x292 Staffers Criticize Security Changes at House Garages

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Staffers are criticizing a recent change in screening procedures at the House garages as ineffective and inconvenient.

They say the 100 percent congressional identification badge check wouldn’t stop someone from smuggling weapons or other illicit items into House office buildings, leaving that side of the Capitol complex less secure than the Senate or the Library of Congress, where drivers and passengers must pass through magnetometers.

A senior Republican aide told CQ Roll Call that when his non-Hill colleague was instructed to exit the car and walk to a pedestrian entrance, he left his backpack in the vehicle. The staffer parked the car in the Cannon Garage, and carried the backpack inside to his colleague.

“His bag is still not checked,” he noted. “My bags are not checked.”

Leaders of the House Administration Committee, who have oversight over the campus, indicated in late July that law enforcement was working to mitigate the problem at the House garages. Members of the Appropriations subcommittee that sets the budget for Capitol Police and the sergeants-at-arms said they dedicated funds in the fiscal 2014 spending bill to mitigate potential incidents in the garages.

House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., suggested there is a “fine balance” to contend with at the garages. He said it would be “unmanageable” to search every vehicle as it comes into each garage.

The ID check policy was announced in an Aug. 15 memo to members of Congress and staff from House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving. It went into effect the following Monday, Aug. 18.

Staffers and interns for members of Congress are not required to go through a background check to get ID badges. In both the House and the Senate, each congressman or committee chairman sets his or her own pre-hiring requirements and the terms and conditions of employment for the staffers and interns that are granted congressional ID badges.

Once they have vetted prospective staff members to their satisfaction, they request a congressional identification badge be issued to the individual by the Senate or House ID office. The same rules apply for credentialed members of the media galleries who are issued press badges.

 

Related:

In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

Members of Congress Acknowledge Major Security Gap at House Garages

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

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August 4, 2014

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

honda 061 0601014 440x292 Should D.C. Fine the House for Stocking Cafeterias With Styrofoam?

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

June 17, 2014

Woodall, Duckworth Want Congress to Speak Frankly About Franking Mail

rules003 010412 440x295 Woodall, Duckworth Want Congress to Speak Frankly About Franking Mail

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Convinced that most Americans “cuss” the unsolicited fliers that arrive in their mailbox bearing an autograph from their elected official instead of a stamp, Rep. Rob Woodall wants to upend the congressional institution known as franking.

He’s not suggesting eliminating taxpayer-funded mailing privileges for Congress. Instead, the Georgia Republican wants to change the accounting system that, among other things, allows district congressional offices to self-report how much their accounts will be billed for postage.

Sixteen years as a legislative staff member taught Woodall a lot about the day-to-day logistics of the franking system. Since being elected to Congress in 2011, he’s heard an earful during town halls from the constituents who think the frank suggests that once you get to Congress the rules no longer apply — no more purchasing postage, no licking stamps. Full story

Capitol Police Under Scrutiny for Alleged Affair

police 044 051412 440x285 Capitol Police Under Scrutiny for Alleged Affair

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rank-and-file Capitol Police officers are suggesting the department needs better oversight after a female officer allegedly having an affair with a male top deputy chief was detailed to a coveted assignment.

To those raising alarm bells, it appears as though the subordinate was transferred to a nice, cushy job to remove her from the deputy chief’s chain of command. For about a month, police with knowledge of the relationship — now under investigation by the Capitol Police inspector general — have been suggesting that the romance between a deputy chief and a subordinate married to a fellow officer violates decorum and could even lead to workplace violence.

“They all carry guns to work every day,” said an officer who spoke to CQ Roll Call on the condition of anonymity because of concerns about repercussions. Full story

June 6, 2014

Capitol Police Say They Won’t Enforce Bike Permit Rules on Public … Yet

bike presser002 050912 440x289 Capitol Police Say They Wont Enforce Bike Permit Rules on Public ... Yet

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Traffic rules that went into effect on June 1 prohibit anyone without a permit from the House or Senate from parking a bike on Capitol grounds.

That would effectively ban lobbyists, tourists and the thousands of other people visiting Congress from using the 40 or so outdoor bike racks previously available to the public.

Capitol Police say they don’t plan to enforce the law on the outdoor bike racks or impound bikes as long as they are parked appropriately. Full story

May 21, 2014

Koch Brothers Movie Saga Continues With Democrats Pointing to Precedent

The Capitol Hill premiere of a film about billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch sparked outrage from Republicans on Tuesday, but it wasn’t all that long ago that a movie co-produced by Citizens United was being screened in the Capitol Visitor Center.

In September 2009, Republicans hosted former Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and his wife, Callista, for an on-campus premiere of their documentary, “Rediscovering God in America II: Our Heritage.” A joint production of Gingrich Productions and Citizens United, the film explores the role of religion in early American history.

Full story

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