Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 28, 2014

Posts in "Senate Sergeant-at-Arms"

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

July 29, 2014

Protest Raises Questions About Contract Workers of Legislative Branch

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Norton and Ellison rally with federal contractors who work at Union Station, the National Zoo and other D.C. sites. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Labor issues came to Capitol Hill Tuesday, as federal contractors protested wages at Union Station and members of Congress used the opportunity to discuss workers’ rights among contractors and employees in the legislative branch.

About 100 federal contractors who work minimum wage jobs at Union Station, Ronald Reagan National Airport, the National Zoo and the Pentagon marched through Columbus Circle on Tuesday morning waving picket signs and flags.

Halting the flow of taxis and tour buses at Union Station, they protested the White House’s executive order to increase hourly pay on new government contracts to $10.10 as “not enough” and demanded the right to unionize.

“These courageous workers have gone on strike nine times,” said Rev. Michael Livingston, national policy director and head of the Washington, D.C., office for Interfaith Worker Justice. The people waving white and blue flags behind his lectern were predominantly women, many dressed like Rosie the Riveter in red bandanas and starched blue shirts and holding the hands of toddlers who marched alongside their working moms. Full story

June 25, 2014

Self-Proclaimed ‘Senate Comedian’ Shows His ‘Caucasian Skills’ (Audio)

Scanning the crowd in the back room of a downtown D.C. sports bar, Senate doorkeeper Scott Muschett, the self-proclaimed “Senate Comedian,” decided the script for his five minutes at the mic was all wrong.

“When I wrote the material tonight, OK, I thought there was going to be a whole bunch of brothas in the house, but it’s all skinny, progressive, urban, young millenials,” Muschett said, pausing before his punchline — an off-color joke about Mel Gibson, delivered a little too quietly to be heard over the excited crowd. He stood at the head of a 12-seat table scattered with beer cans and cocktail glasses and surrounded by Senate sergeant-at-arms employees who came out to Chinatown’s RFD bar to support their longtime co-worker. Full story

June 6, 2014

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

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(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

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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.

May 6, 2014

Gainer’s New Gig: Senior Adviser to Securitas Private Security Firm

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Gainer, left, will now work for a security firm that contracts with federal agencies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Seven years as the Senate’s chief law enforcement and administrative officer made Terrance W. Gainer the longest-serving sergeant-at-arms since World War II.

When his May retirement was announced, some asked the well-like Illinois native why he wasn’t aiming to be to be the longest-serving sergeant-at-arms in history.

That title currently belongs to the Senate’s first sergeant-at-arms, Revolutionary War veteran James Mathers, who served for 22 years, from April 1789 until his death in September 1811.

Gainer’s answer: “What I really want to be is the sergeant-at-arms who’s lived the longest,” he said during a March interview with CQ Roll Call. After more than 46 years of public service, the former chief of the Capitol Police was looking forward to moving into the private sector, likely to do consulting work, and see if he could “build the Gainer coffers up.”

On Monday, Securitas Security Services USA, a New Jersey-headquartered company that provides guards and protective services to federal buildings under contracts with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, announced Gainer as its senior adviser, effective immediately.

“We are very pleased that Terry has joined Securitas USA and look forward to his valuable contributions.” Terence McGrath, president of Securitas USA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, said in a statement. “His background and experience in security and law enforcement at all levels will strengthen our position as an industry ‘knowledge leader.’”

Gainer will be based at the company’s regional office in Frederick, Md., and tasked with advising senior management on security-related matters, including cyber, physical and personal security, according to the release.

Securitas does business on a global and national level, with more than 640 local branch managers and approximately 86,000 security officers. They offer specialized, mobile and remote guarding and corporate risk management.

When senators took to the floor to praise the outgoing “chief” late last week, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, a fellow Illinoisan, lauded Gainer’s record on security.

“This building is a target for people who would bring destruction to this building and death to those who visit,” Durbin said, reflecting on his role in recent tragedies. The senator said Gainer’s “steady hand and his constant presence in the halls” would be greatly missed.

The Senate on Monday elected Gainer’s deputy of five years, Drew Willison, to replace him.

May 5, 2014

Drew Willison Elected Senate Sergeant-at-Arms

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate elected Drew Willison its sergeant-at-arms by unanimous consent on Monday afternoon, making him the 39th person to hold the post in the history of the chamber.

“The importance of this appointment cannot be overstated,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. “While senators and their staffs come and go, the Office of Sergeant-at-Arms provides much-needed stability to support this great institution.”

Reid said retired Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer left behind “big shoes to fill,” but he knew Willison was up to the task.

Willison first came to Capitol Hill in 1997, to assist Reid’s work on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and eventually earned a spot as staff director for the Appropriations Energy-Water Subcommittee.

“Drew did not seek this position, it has come to him because of his good work,” Reid said of the SAA post, promising Willison would thrive in the nonpartisan office because of his work ethic.

“He is really a talented man, and he’s a very, very quick learner,” he continued. “Everyone who’s worked with him over the years came to the realization very quickly. Tell him what you want him to do, he did it with a smile. He did it well and he did it right.”

Willison was appointed Gainer’s deputy in 2007 and served there for five years with a brief foray into the nonprofit world.

Reid called him “Chief Gainer’s right-hand man — and that is an understatement.”

Drew Willison, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms With a City Manager’s Touch

Incoming Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Drew Willison once dreamed of becoming a city manager.

Willison spent his formative years in Emporia, Va., a tiny town near the North Carolina border with a long tradition of strong city managers, and admired the work of a family friend who held the title. With his mind set on a municipal career path, Willison studied government at William and Mary College, then earned a master’s degree in public administration from Ohio State University.

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Willison takes over. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Instead, the 48-year-old, who also has a law degree from George Washington University, went to Capitol Hill. On Monday, as Willison assumes the post of retiring Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer, he effectively becomes the city manager for the 100-member Senate. Full story

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 16, 2014

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to Lay Wreath at Tomb of the Unknowns

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Gainer will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

On Friday at 1 p.m., outgoing Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

The wreath-laying ceremony is being hosted by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, the commanding general for the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, to honor the 38th Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and decorated Vietnam War veteran.

During his tenure, Gainer served with the Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security, which was created to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute by assisting in strengthening security institutions.

Gainer, a former Capitol Police chief, retires May 5, after more than 46 years of public service. The Illinois native’s law enforcement career spanned from the Chicago Police Department to director of the Illinois State Police, to Washington, D.C., where he became second in command of the Metropolitan Police Department, head of Capitol Police and finally his current position.

Gainer will be replaced by his deputy of seven years, Drew Willison, next month.

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