Rep. Jack Kingston (right), a former chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, has a long list of programs that could be cut around the Capitol complex to save money. Kingston is running to be the next chairman of the full committee.
Posting officers at every Capitol entrance, Kingston added, is an outdated practice from before 9/11. For instance, a checkpoint was placed at the Memorial Door entrance near the Small House Rotunda below the Speaker’s office after a gunman rushed in and killed two officers in 1998.
“One of the legacies of that horrible tragedy was to post a police officer at that doorway,” Kingston said. “Enter 9/11 and the entire campus security chain was beefed up. If you have the perimeter secured, why do you have so many interior check stations?”
And because of the structural and electronic security, Kingston further suggested that officers and parking attendants at the Rayburn House Office Building parking lot are superfluous.
“If the public has elected you with the job of balancing the budget, solving Iraq and Middle East peace, perhaps you should have enough sense to know to look both ways before going through the stop sign,” he said.
Kingston also recommended paring police expenses by ending security details and escorts for “lower-level leadership members.”
He would also try to limit the police department’s jurisdiction just to the Capitol complex and rein in the practice of officers responding to crime scenes at the National Mall and in Members’ districts, he said.
“If my house in Alexandria gets broken into, and I want them to come out there, they’ll come out there. How much of this is necessary and how much of it isn’t?” he said. “They push for permission, then they come back and say we need more money because they’re doing so many more things.”
Capitol Visitor Center tour guides are overpaid, Kingston continued, as some take home as much as $60,000 per year. Having a visitor assistant at the CVC’s entrance makes little sense, Kingston said.
“How much does that person get paid there to read a magazine?” he said.
The Members’ dining room in the Capitol stays open too late, making it hard to find a waiter who will work for comparable private-sector wages, he said.
Of course, the word of a House Appropriations chairman isn’t law; Kingston would only set the tone from the top. A yet-unnamed chairman for the Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch would have to implement the suggestions, and all that would have to be done in conjunction with the House Administration Committee.
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