After being up for way to long the unscalable fence surrounding the Capitol Complex has begun to be taken down. This fence system was 3 miles long at one point and it honestly was the biggest pain in the butt to have to navigate. In the morning going to work could take up to 20-30 minutes of waiting to get past the two layer system and even worse to get though three layers.
While the fence was accepted at first by the end of February people who live in the DC area surrounding the capitol had begun to protest against it. The number and amount of signs that were being placed around the city kept growing and growing. Honestly it was really hard to understand why such a large area was still fenced off. Given the amount of police and National Guard troops it was just massive overkill.
Since the first layer of wall has come down it has been amazing at how fast I can get to work. The Officers and Military Personnel also just seem a lot nicer and laid back almost like the stress has been lifted off of their shoulders. Also more and more of the Capitol Complex is opening up again. When the National Guard was called in large sections of the complex were reserved for them to rest and take breaks. Since the Capitol just does not have just empty rooms Committee Rooms, offices, etc. where moved all over the place to make room for the troops.
There have also been some new things that I am not sure if they are normal of the complex or new issues. Over the long run though these issues could be more and more concerning though but with the staff numbers still low due to COVID restriction and Congress being out of session the last two weeks it has been doable. I am sure you are wondering what the issues could possibly be? Well its building evacuations.
The three House Office Buildings are organized in a way that the Cannon Building is for the most senior members of the House or those with high ranking appointments. The next level is the Longworth Building where I work actually which is typically for the middle people of Congress with the Rayburn Building being the building for new members to Congress as its just not as great of a building. The buildings are all connected via tunnels that link them together. They are linked via a line though so to get to the Capitol Building one has to always go to Cannon and Rayburn is the longest walk, this is one of the reasons it is not as favored by Congressional members. In the last week though two of the three buildings have had to be evacuated.
Last Friday the Cannon Building has to be evacuated after it lost power. It is currently undergoing renovations though so I would have thought it would have been related to that however after an hour and a half of US Capitol Police investigating it the all clear was given yet the area remained closed. While nothing was made public by USCP about what happened it seemed rather odd that it took them as long as it did and that the office building never reopened. Today at 1:15 due to a suspicious package outside of an office the building had to be evacuated. At 1:35 the all clear was given for the package and people where allowed to reenter only for an order to remain out of the building at their designated areas being issued less than a minute later. It was not until 2:15 that people were able to reenter the building.
I hope that this is not a reoccurring trend or something that has previously been a normal thing. While there is naturally a concern for personal safety there is also the lost work time. It is not like staffers can immediately get back at 2:15 and flip a switch back on to full operation. There is a ton of stuff you have to sign into, then check for messages, before going over whatever you were doing to pick back up where you were. It a lot of wasted time to be honest. Only time will tell though how it all works out and I certainly hope that the security that is in place now is enough to prevent needless evacuations.