Katherine Tully-McManus

Gas Leak Stinks Up Senate and Closes Roads
Areas near Hart Senate Office Building affected

Roads were closed on the Senate side of the Capitol Thursday morning after a construction crew hit a gas line. A strong gas smell blanketed the area, even outside of the road closures. The D.C. Fire department was on the scene to address the leak. 

Capitol Police enforcing the road and sidewalk closures outside of the Hart Senate Office Building said there was not an estimated time for a resolution of the leak.

Democrats Line Up on Floor to Call Attention to Election Security
Maneuver has been used before on other hot-button issues

House Democrats took turns Wednesday requesting a vote on an amendment to fund election systems protection, saying the money is needed to “prevent Russian interference” in future elections.

The procedural moves from Democrats come ahead of a vote on a Republican-led spending bill (HR 6147) that would zero out election security grants that help states to fortify their systems against hacking and cyber attacks. The Election Assistance Commission is funded at $380 million under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this year. 

Negotiations Over Sexual Harassment Bills Continue, but No Timetable Yet
Lawmakers report progress on reconciling House, Senate approaches

Even as lawmakers and staff work to reconcile legislation passed by the House and Senate to curb sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, a timeline for enacting the bills is unclear, months after they were fast-tracked for floor votes.

“We’re confident we are going to get there at some point. We’re not quite there,” House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper of Mississippi said.

Capitol-Cannon Tunnel Floods, Surprising Very Few
Rain-caused waterfalls not a rare occurrence in aging buildings

Tuesday’s extreme weather touched down on the Hill when tourists, lawmakers, staff and press were all turned away from the tunnel connecting the Capitol to the Cannon House Office Building after water flooded the pedestrian passageway.

Capitol Police officers keeping people away from the area were not surprised.

Capitol Police: Member Event Security, Threat Probes Expand Since Shootings
‘We are looking at coverage more globally,’ Verderosa says

The Capitol Police has “widened the net” of events off Capitol Hill where the agency has acted to ensure protection for lawmakers since the shooting at a Republican baseball practice last June, Chief Matthew Verderosa told members of the House Administration Committee on Tuesday. 

The agency has engaged with local law enforcement for over 400 events outside of the Capitol complex, including for member town hall meetings and other district events. Lawmakers have expressed concern over safety at remote events and meetings after the shooting and as political tensions have ramped up rhetoric and actions by citizens.

Saying Goodbye to a Media Refuge: The Rayburn Press Room
Undercover Capitol takes you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

Senate Passes Bill to Address Harassment on Capitol Hill
But critics say measure “may have unintended negative consequences”

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill by voice vote that would crack down on sexual harassment on Capitol Hill and update the onerous process for employees to report harassment and discrimination.

The overhaul measure was quickly brought to the floor, after being released Wednesday with the backing of the Senate’s Republican and Democratic leaders.

Senate Anti-Harassment Bill Could See Fast Action
Lawmakers would be held personally liable for misconduct

Updated 6:34 p.m. | The Senate is moving to combat sexual harassment on Capitol Hill with a bill aimed at overhauling the process for reporting and resolving claims of harassment and discrimination, in addition to holding lawmakers personally liable for misconduct settlement payments.

The proposal, unveiled Wednesday, has the backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. And the chamber could pass it as early as Thursday. The House passed a sweeping overhaul of harassment procedures in February.

Threats Away From Capitol Worry Senators
Capitol Police have requested additional funding

Senators on Tuesday cited fears about inadequate protection at events outside the Capitol campus and in their states, and urged the Capitol Police chief and the new Senate sergeant-at-arms to re-evaluate the threat assessment process for lawmakers.

At a Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, lawmakers pushed Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael C. Stenger to justify requested funding and personnel increases for Capitol security while also ensuring protection for lawmakers elsewhere — particularly in their states and at gatherings in Washington away from Capitol Hill.

House Appropriators Vote to End Perk for Former Speakers
Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi both back ending office space, funding for former speakers

The House Appropriations Committee advanced its $3.8 billion fiscal 2019 Legislative Branch spending bill to the floor Tuesday, after adopting an amendment to eliminate funding for a Capitol Hill office perk for former speakers.

The panel backed the bill, 47-0, after adopting by voice vote a manager’s amendment from Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Yoder of Kansas, which would end taxpayer funding for an office for former House speakers, along with staff and other resources.

Senate Might Vote on Duckworth Resolution to Allow Infants on the Floor
Rules change pushed by Illinois senator following birth of her second child

The Senate is known for resisting change, but senators might quickly and quietly update one of the most entrenched rules of who can be on the chamber floor.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth became the first sitting senator to give birth and submitted a resolution last week that would allow senators to bring a child under 1 year old onto the Senate floor during votes.

Inquiries to Congressional Office of Compliance Fell in 2017
Cost of settlements did rise, according to report

Despite intense attention on workplace sexual harassment, Capitol Hill employees made fewer inquiries last year to Congress’ watchdog, but the cost of settlements rose, according to new statistics released Friday.

Harassment and hostile workplace issues topped the list of reasons that employees reached out to the congressional Office of Compliance, according to its annual report covering fiscal 2017, which ended last September. Total inquiries to the office were down to 185 from 284 the year before. The initiation of formal complaint resolutions remained mostly steady at 47, down two.

No Elves, No Coal: Myth-Busting the Capitol’s ‘Little Doors’
Undercover Capitol takes you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

The Capitol has been rebuilt, expanded and renovated many times since the early 1800s. But its corridors still have a few tiny reminders of an innovative fire-fighting system created by the same master engineer who built the iconic Capitol Dome....
Lawmakers Rekindle Efforts to End Harassment on Hill but Face Uncertain Future
Recent omnibus did not include sweeping House-passed harassment measure

A renewed push is underway to more forcefully address Capitol Hill’s sexual harassment problem, just as the latest scandal has led another lawmaker to retire.

It’s not yet clear if a bipartisan call from female senators will be strong enough to prompt Senate leadership to take up legislation to protect staff on Capitol Hill when lawmakers return Monday from a two-week recess. All 22 female Republican and Democratic senators signed on to a letter last week urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer to bring House-passed legislation to the floor.

Congress, Waiting for an Omnibus to Arrive
Senate staying on banking legislation, House looks at votes on guns

Keep an eye out for the release of a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill this week. Negotiators are aiming to complete work on the sprawling bill and pass it before March 23, when the fifth stopgap funding measure of the fiscal year expires.

The bipartisan budget deal enacted last month freed up an additional $143 billion for discretionary programs in fiscal 2018 — $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for nondefense accounts.

House Approves Funding for Lantos Human Rights Panel
Move is a first for commission that holds hearings, briefings

The House for the first time will direct funds to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a panel of members that has operated on a volunteer basis since it was created nearly a decade ago.

The House Administration Committee on Wednesday by voice vote backed a $200,000 allocation from a reserve fund for commission operations and personnel. Chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss., said the committee resolution was in response to a request from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

New Training Available for Hill Staffers Who Witness Sexual Harassment
Lawmakers implemented training requirements late last year

New training is now available for staffers on Capitol Hill on what to do as a bystander or witness to sexual harassment as offices move to comply with the new anti-harassment training requirements implemented by the House and Senate late last year.

“If you see something, say something” may work for unattended bags on  the Metro, but what to do when you’re witnessing sexual harassment in the workplace is less straightforward. The Office of Compliance, which oversees workplace rights and training for Capitol Hill is introducing trainings — both online modules and in-person — on bystander intervention and general training to combat workplace harassment.

Bulletproof Vests, Security Guards Approved for House Members
Hiring a security detail is “an ordinary and necessary reimbursable expense,” the new guidelines say

House lawmakers can use taxpayer funds to buy bulletproof vests and other security equipment, under a resolution approved by the House Administration Committee on Tuesday.

The resolution also allows members to hire security personnel for events such as town halls, to guard their district offices during business hours, and to accompany them on official business. 

House Adopts Rules to Curb Sexual Harassment
Members are now forbidden to have sexual relationships with their aides

In the wake of high-profile resignations over sexual harassment claims, the House on Tuesday approved sweeping changes to its internal rules intended to protect staffers, including a prohibition on sexual relationships between members and their aides. Lawmakers also passed a bipartisan bill to overhaul the process for investigating and resolving complaints by congressional employees regarding sexual harassment.

The House by voice vote adopted the rules change, which goes into effect immediately because it only pertains to the chamber. Representatives also passed by voice vote the bill that would revamp the twenty-year-old Congressional Accountability Act. That bill now heads to the Senate.

Not Coming Soon: The Federal Register
Spending law that ended shutdown hitched ride on bill to cut paper deliveries

The legislation that ended the recent shutdown not only turned the government’s lights back on, but also took a small step toward that most elusive of goals: the paperless office. 

That’s because the vehicle for the continuing resolution that funds the government until Feb. 8 was legislation that prohibits the Government Publishing Office from distributing free printed copies of the Federal Register to congressional offices or other government employees, unless specifically requested. When congressional leaders needed a vessel to move their spending cargo, they hitched it to this otherwise innocuous bill.