CVC Watch

Posted September 24, 2007 at 6:04pm

It’s no secret that in most offices on Capitol Hill, things can get pretty crowded.

Congress’ lack of office space is one of the reasons that Members decided to spend an additional $70 million to expand the Capitol Visitor Center, creating an additional 85,000 square feet for hearings, offices and storage.

But the CVC also will offer those who cover the goings-on of Congress a little more room as well, both for office space and a fresh place for filming.

Broadcast reporters are expected to use the space overlooking the Great Hall (which is expected soon to be named Emancipation Hall) to do stand-ups and interviews. [IMGCAP(1)]

Located just past the CVC’s entrance zones, the space is situated just above the hall and will provide a fresh view of the Capitol Dome as well as shots of visitors below and statues moved from the Capitol itself.

Policy and procedure issues remain at the CVC, so the final tenant list has yet to be decided. But one of the known spaces is for the Senate Recording Studio. When the studio moves to the CVC, it will be able to upgrade to a full high-definition facility and implement a number of other improvements.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer oversees duties at the recording studio. When he testified before appropriators earlier this year, he said the studio is expected to hire two new employees and move most of its staff to the CVC once it opens.

As with much of the CVC itself, work in the recording studio is nearly complete. As for the rest of the Senate expansion area — which also will include storage space for the Senate Gift Shop and curators office and facilities for the closed captioning service — much of its space will remain unoccupied to allow for future expansion needs.

Meanwhile, on the House side, expansion space will open up as studio space for the House Radio/Television Gallery.

In his appropriations request, Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard asked for funds to pay the salary of one new full-time employee to oversee that gallery.

Construction is nearly complete at the entire CVC facility — officials estimate actual building work is about 97 percent finished.

Crews are focused on cleanup work and have already completed cleanup in the CVC entrance zones, the Exhibition Hall, the restaurant, the upper level east and west lobbies and several corridors and stairwells.

•••

Two CVC-related hearings will be held today. The first, scheduled for 10 a.m. in Room 2358 in the Rayburn House Office Building, is the monthly CVC oversight hearing sponsored by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

Those scheduled to testify include acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers, CVC Project Executive Bernard Ungar, AOC Fire Marshal Kenneth Lauziere and Terrell Dorn, the director of physical infrastructure issues for the Government Accountability Office.

The second hearing, set for 2 p.m. in Room 2253 Rayburn, will be a hearing on the bill that would officially change the name of the CVC’s Great Hall to Emancipation Hall, in honor of the slaves who helped build the Capitol.

Sponsored by Legislative Branch Subcommittee ranking member Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), the bill shouldn’t having any trouble passing — as of Monday, a bipartisan group of 227 Members had signed on as co-sponsors.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, introduced companion legislation in that chamber.