the-capitol

Metal Detectors in House Garages Questioned

Wasserman Schultz (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A decision to install metal detectors in staff garages for House office buildings drew criticism Wednesday from one Democratic House member, who said the process was executed in a "shoddy and haphazard manner."  

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.,  grilled House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing before she was cut off by the chairman.  

Defunct House Page Dorm Eyed for Day Care Facility

Congressional Pages in 1939, when Dingell was part of the program. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former dormitory for House pages is being eyed as a potential day care facility. While that may relieve space considerations for the popular day care program, at least one lawmaker is concerned it could also be the last blow to the defunct page program.  

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has asked for a review of whether the space could be used as a daycare facility, according to Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers. The First Street building has sat idle since the page program was ended in 2011. The program, which had brought hundreds of teenagers to work for Congress, was officially the victim of budget cuts and technology changes but the announcement came on the heels of a series of embarrassing stories involving the pages and elected officials. The Senate program remains in place.  

Lawmakers Question Capitol Police Budget Request

Dine, followed by Assistant Chief Matthew Verderosa, arrive to testify before the House Subcommittee on Legislative Branch hearing. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers are questioning why the Capitol Police department is asking for a 9 percent increase in its fiscal 2017 budget request just three months after securing an additional $27 million — some of which has yet to be spent.  

Outgoing Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine appeared before House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Tuesday to explain the need for more police officers to help beef up security efforts.  

Police Take Aim at Security Loopholes

   

Securing the grounds on Capitol Hill is a fine line between keeping "the People’s House" accessible and keeping it safe. That fine line will move again next week when the Capitol Police increase screening protocols for congressional staff.  

North Korea Brings Polarized Congress Together

Corker couldn't say enough nice things about the legislation and his colleagues. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What do you have to do to bring a politically polarized Congress together? Conduct a nuclear weapons test, launch a long-range rocket and restart a reactor that can provide weapons-grade plutonium.  

That's the kind of series of events that will get everyone from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., hardly ideological soul mates, all operating on the same page, and voting on Wednesday, 96-0, to enhance sanctions against North Korea because of its nuclear activity. Senators could hardly wait for the 5 p.m.  scheduled vote.  

Capitol Digs Out After Winter Storm Jonas

Capitol crews load snow into a dump truck. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It took 345 workers using 100 pieces of gear and "countless shovels" working through the weekend, but the Capitol campus' roadways and sidewalks are now clear of the snow dumped by the weekend blizzard that walloped the region.  

While most federal offices remained closed amid snow removal efforts in the District of Columbia, Capitol crews cleared nearly two feet of snow from parking lots, plazas and road for members of Congress who begin returning Tuesday.  

Congress Stays Away, but Not Sledders

Capitol Hill was crowded on Sunday as the snow stopped and the sledders came to hang out. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

When Congress is away, the people will play. Amid the weekend's historic snowfall and its digging-out aftermath, Washingtonians went to Capitol Hill in droves to enjoy their newfound freedom to sled. It is hard to imagine, when looking out at festive atmosphere on the House side of the grounds on Monday that it took an act of Congress to allow sledding. Congress was not in session, of course. The House was in recess last week, and the Senate left town on Jan. 21, beating the first flakes of the so-called Snowzilla that paralyzed the East Coast and shut down transportation networks across the region.  

The House won't cast a vote again until Feb. 1, given the weather and a Democratic retreat in Baltimore. While the Senate won’t be voting until Wednesday, the chamber is still scheduled to gavel in on Tuesday. But given the ongoing snow cleanup efforts, Senate staffers were monitoring the situation before releasing definite plans for the week.  

House Cancels Votes for Week as D.C. Digs Out From Blizzard

Good Samaritans help push a minivan stuck in the snow at Union Station in Washington during the blizzard on Saturday, (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 6:30 p.m. | The weekend's historic blizzard has forced a delay in the House's attempt to overcome President Barack Obama's veto of a rollback of his signature health care law.  

As workers around the Capitol began to dig out from the weekend's snowstorm, it was already clear that travel would be affected into the coming work week, leading House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to inform members Sunday that the next votes for the chamber would be pushed off until Feb. 1.  

D.C. Braces for Blizzard

Architect of the Capitol crews clear snow from the East Plaza of the Capitol at sunrise on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a snow emergency effective Friday morning, as the region prepares for a blizzard that could dump up to 2 feet of snow in the District over the weekend.  

Heavy snow is forecast to start Friday afternoon and last through Saturday evening with wind gusts at up to 50 mph that could lead to whiteout conditions, the National Weather Service said.  

Chants, Silent Protests in Chamber for Obama's Final SOTU

Obama shakes hands with Biden and Ryan as he arrives to deliver his final State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress in Washington. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When Paul D. Ryan and Joseph R. Biden squared off during a vice presidential debate at a small Kentucky college four years ago, perhaps the last place they expected to meet again would be seated above the House floor for President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address. But in the moments before the president began a speech about ending partisanship, the Republican speaker and the Democratic vice president chatted amiably for several minutes.  

Around them the House chamber buzzed with a hundred conversations. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gravitated to the bright red sweater-vest of Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, joining them. Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio of Florida, back in Washington tending to senatorial duties, ended up chatting and laughing with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Graham has returned to the Senate full time, of course, having pulled the plug on his own 2016 White House bid.