Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

Posts in "House Sergeant-at-Arms"

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 18, 2014

In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

garage081814 440x292 In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Law enforcement officials on Capitol Hill are making it harder for people without congressional identification badges to avoid security checks in the wake of recent arrests for carrying handguns.

On Monday morning, Capitol Police began enforcing a new ID check policy at the House garages. When a car pulls up, officers check for the requisite parking stickers and ask every passenger to show credentials. Any passenger over the age of 18 who is without a congressional ID is required to exit the vehicle prior to its entry into the garage.

House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving announced the change late on Aug. 15 in a memo to members of Congress and staff that was obtained by CQ Roll Call. According to the notice, passengers without ID will be directed to a pedestrian entrance. At those doors, they would be required to empty their pockets and submit to a search involving X-ray machines and magnetometers.

The change is an effort to “tighten security” at the House garages, according to a high-ranking security official who spoke on background about the changes. It comes after two incidents that have cast campus security in a new light.

During a search one month ago, Capitol Police found a 9 mm handgun in the bag of Ryan Shucard, press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa. Police arrested Shucard, stopping him from bringing the weapon into the Cannon House Office building.

Five days later, Capitol Police arrested South Carolina pork executive Ronald Prestage at another Cannon door after finding a loaded 9 mm handgun inside an ankle holster in his briefcase.

Full story

August 8, 2014

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

deere009 092313 440x291 House of Cards Film Crew Hits National Mall on Saturday

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

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 30, 2014

Capitol Police Overhaul Campus Traffic Rules

segs011 090910 215x330 Capitol Police Overhaul Campus Traffic Rules

Will you still be able to Seg ‘n Selfie? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a news dump late Friday afternoon, the Capitol Police released updated traffic regulations for the Capitol grounds that will be “effective and enforceable by June 1.”

The department touted the new rules as “straightforward and easier to understand,” following the first major rewrite in more than 30 years. The police say they redrafted any regulation with overly technical language to be more clear in the new, 179-page document posted on their website.

For example, a rule referring to “brake force deceleration per second” was updated to read: “All brakes shall be maintained in good working order.”

Other major changes include:

  • An entirely new chapter, Chapter 9, dealing with taxicabs that corresponds with current District of Columbia regulations.
  • Bicycles, Segways and pedicabs are now covered covered separately from motor vehicles in the portion dealing with foot traffic and recreational traffic on the grounds.
  • The language has been updated to include all new architectural features on the Capitol Grounds, including the East Front and Capitol Visitor Center.
  • Rules relating to demonstrations and other miscellaneous activities on the Capitol Grounds have been “substantially revised,” according to the department. One major change makes demonstration rules applicable to groups of 20 or under as well as to groups of over 20.
  • Road races will only be permitted through the Capitol Grounds on Sundays.

A task force comprised of personnel from the Capitol Police, Architect of the Capitol and House and Senate Sergeants at Arms worked together on the rules, and reviewed current D.C. code.

“The goal of the task force was to propose to the Capitol Police Board amendments to the [Capitol traffic rules] intended to make the regulations more comprehensive and specifically aligned with current traffic regulation and enforcement on Capitol Grounds,” they stated in the release.

Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the department, was not immediately able to comment on the changes.

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

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