congressional-operations

Photos of the Week: They’re Back!
The week of September 13 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Over the August recess, the Ohio Clock’s two arms were returned to full working order. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., returned to Washington with just one working arm after breaking his shoulder at his home in Kentucky. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two top Architect of the Capitol employees have left the agency after investigation
Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left in July

Acting Architect of the Capitol Thomas Carroll. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two top employees at the Architect of the Capitol who oversaw building operations in the House and Senate are no longer working there, months after they were put on administrative leave while they were investigated for emails critical of Christine Merdon, the former head of the agency.

Senate Building Superintendent Takis Tzamaras and House Building Superintendent Bill Weidemeyer both left the agency in July. Tzamaras said he resigned and Weidemeyer said he retired.

Capitol Ink | Mixed Messages

Cannon renewal could be $100 million over budget; hazardous materials found
Project has not yet fully completed Phase 1 yet

The Cannon House Office Building renovation has encountered several hurdles. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The project to renovate the Cannon House Office Building could climb more than $100 million over budget, a process that has, in part, been delayed by the discovery of hazardous materials and a fluid list of changes requested by the Architect of the Capitol that deviates from the original plan.

Terrell Dorn, managing director for infrastructure operations at the Government Accountability Office, notes in testimony submitted for Tuesday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Cannon project that the Architect of the Capitol expects the total building renovation cost to increase substantially from the initial estimate.

Capitol Ink | Venn Diagram

Term limit rules targeted by Trump aren’t tipping scale on House GOP retirements
POTUS wants to discourage retirements, but life in the minority is also a factor

President Trump blamed the wave of retirements on a GOP conference rule that term limits committee chairmen. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is one member who said losing his top committee spot impacted his choice to not seek reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has an idea he thinks would quell the growing list of House Republicans who say they won’t run for another term, but the president’s proposal might not get to the root of the GOP retirements.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump urged House GOP leaders to alter conference rules to allow committee chairs (and ranking members if in the minority) to hold their posts for more than six years.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez roasts Fox News’ Laura Ingraham amid Twitter-blocking dispute
New York Democrat claims she has only blocked Twitter users who have repeatedly harassed her

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Thursday defended her practice of blocking Twitter users who harass her online. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came at the neck of Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Thursday, calling the prime-time political anchor a “neo-Nazi fan favorite” known for “defending white supremacist viewpoints and mocking gun violence survivors.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Twitter-savvy New York Democrat had been defending herself from an accusation by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute that she was breaking the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users from following her account.

Merdon out at AOC, Thomas Carroll named new acting architect
Search continues for permanent Architect of the Capitol

Acting Architect of the Capitol Christine Merdon resigned, and Thomas J. Carroll has been named to lead the agency. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Christine Merdon is out as acting Architect of the Capitol, and Thomas J. Carroll has been named to lead the agency on an acting basis as the search for a permanent AOC continues.

In an internal notice to AOC employees, Merdon said she had accepted a job outside of the agency.

Chief administrative officer warns employees: Shape up or risk being outsourced
Congress is not looking to outsource CAO services — yet, Philip Kiko says

House Chief Administrative Officer Philip Kiko said Congress could be tempted to outsource CAO services to the private sector. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House chief administrative officer struck an ominous tone in a staff meeting Wednesday, warning employees that Congress could eventually look to outsource many of their services to private sector vendors if they don’t step up and meet member demands.

In an all-hands meeting broadcast on YouTube, Philip Kiko focused on a set of recommendations approved by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress last week and his appearance before that same committee on July 11, both of which yielded criticism of his office’s performance.

So much for Whistleblower Appreciation Day; Capitol Hill workers still unprotected
Employees of legislative branch agencies don't have the same protections as other federal workers

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., once cosponsored a whistleblower protection bill, but Capitol Hill staff remain unprotected. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate had declared July 30 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day,” but that apparently is for other people, since senators’ own staffers and other legislative branch employees are not protected equally compared to other federal workers.

The discrepancy has been in place for years, but legislation to expand protections for employees of the House and Senate, Library of Congress, Capitol Police and other agencies hasn’t moved forward.