Sept. 1, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Low Profile Suits House Security Chief

Bill Clark/Roll Call
House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood is usually only in the spotlight during important speeches and security breaches.

But even if he isn’t granting interviews or holding news conferences, Livingood’s influence can be seen and felt across Capitol Hill. The complex’s security posture expanded dramatically after the 1998 shooting of two Capitol Police officers under the Dome and then even more after the 2001 attacks and the ensuing anthrax scare.

That’s not to say the expansion hasn’t from time to time rankled Members, who weigh constituent access heavily against security. But they respect Livingood’s judgment on the matter.

“He’s done an amazing job and probably under the most challenging circumstances Congress has ever faced in terms of security,” said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), the former chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch. 

Livingood, chairman of the Capitol Police Board in even years, has often played peacemaker. He once, for instance, smoothed out a dispute with Moran and Kingston on one end and Gainer, who was Capitol Police chief at the time, on the other.

Some 25 officers came to a subcommittee hearing in a show of solidarity for a then-maligned Gainer.

“They were trying to intimidate us, intimidate Jack and I. They’d stand there with their arms folded,” Moran said. “It was counterproductive. Bill understood right away and fixed it and let them know, ‘You don’t try to intimidate Members of Congress, particularly Kingston and Moran.’”

With the talks of what to do after the shooting in Tucson still in a very fluid state, Members are again looking to Livingood for advice on how to balance constituent access and security.

“He’s certainly in the midst of these conversations we’re having about what more we need to do,” House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) said.

But Members say there is no one they’d rather have at the helm. A much-earned retirement is inevitable, but until then, they endorse him with a common refrain: “The job is his as long as he wants it.”

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