WASHINGTON April 3, 2006
(CBS/AP) Police ordered an evacuation of the U.S. Capitol shortly after noon Monday after the building lost power. ©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
But the lights went back on less than an hour later, utility officials say.
Electricity was restored about half an hour later, but officials decided to keep the building evacuated until the cause of the outage was determined, said Bob Stevenson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Mary-Beth Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for Potomac Electric Power Co., said the electricity was shut off automatically after there was "a momentary drop in voltage due to customer operations up the lines" away from the Capitol.
"The protective equipment sensed the significant change in voltage and tripped," she said.
A Department of Homeland Security official said it was a "simple power outage" that affected only the Capitol and not any nearby office buildings, CBS News reports.
Before the evacuation sirens went off, more than 100 visitors sat in the darkened House gallery. They exited with everyone else when the alarm sounded, calmly walking toward exits.
A Pepco spokeswoman said power was restored to the building and the company was investigating the cause of the outage.
A Senate aide says the power system had recently been experiencing what he called low-level difficulties.
Sirens signaling the evacuation went off and lawmakers and visitors were told to leave.
It was not immediately clear what the cause of the outage was. Before the sirens went off, visitors calmly walked toward the exits and it appeared that emergency generators were activated because some lights flickered back on.
Security officers and other building personnel walked the halls of the Senate and House of Representatives with flashlights.
Thanks to CursedProphetess
The Doomsday Plan & The Next 9/11
Why this wasn't told to the people makes me believe that the power outage recording may in fact be legitimate, and the NWO is now grasping at the last shreds of power they hold. More and more Americans are taking the red pill everyday, their time is running out. Fear has worked in their favor before, and now they just want to take over. I have a sickening feeling that it may not in fact be the newly bought Sears tower, but the capitol building, and I'll betcha it's going to happen on 06/06/06. Read on. ~ CursedProphetess
Congress Passes 'Doomsday' Plan
By Noelle Straub
The Boston Herald
Sunday 09 January 2005
Washington - With no fanfare, the U.S. House has passed a controversial doomsday provision that would allow a handful of lawmakers to run Congress if a terrorist attack or major disaster killed or incapacitated large numbers of congressmen.
"I think (the new rule) is terrible in a whole host of ways - first, I think it's unconstitutional," said Norm Ornstein, a counselor to the independent Continuity of Government Commission, a bipartisan panel created to study the issue. "It's a very foolish thing to do, I believe, and the way in which it was done was more foolish."
But supporters say the rule provides a stopgap measure to allow the government to continue functioning at a time of national crisis.
GOP House leaders pushed the provision as part of a larger rules package that drew attention instead for its proposed ethics changes, most of which were dropped.
Usually, 218 lawmakers - a majority of the 435 members of Congress - are required to conduct House business, such as passing laws or declaring war.
But under the new rule, a majority of living congressmen no longer will be needed to do business under "catastrophic circumstances."
Instead, a majority of the congressmen able to show up at the House would be enough to conduct business, conceivably a dozen lawmakers or less.
The House speaker would announce the number after a report by the House Sergeant at Arms. Any lawmaker unable to make it to the chamber would effectively not be counted as a congressman.
The circumstances include "natural disaster, attack, contagion or similar calamity rendering Representatives incapable of attending the proceedings of the House."
The House could be run by a small number of lawmakers for months, because House vacancies must be filled by special elections. Governors can make temporary appointments to the Senate.
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), one of few lawmakers active on the issue, argued the rule change contradicts the U.S. Constitution, which states that "a majority of each (House) shall constitute a quorum to do business.
"Changing what constitutes a quorum in this way would allow less than a dozen lawmakers to declare war on another nation," Baird said.
Go to Original
GOP Leaders Tighten Their Grip on House
By Mike Allen
The Washington Post
Sunday 09 January 2005
House Republican leaders moved swiftly last week to tighten and centralize control of the new Congress by replacing uncooperative committee chairmen and changing the chamber's rules to deter ethics investigations of leaders.
The Republicans expanded their majority by only three seats in the Nov. 2 election, yet party leaders have been emboldened by GOP domination of all branches of government and appear determined to squelch dissent in their own ranks and to freeze Democrats out of key decisions.
Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) moved to force out the ethics committee chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), who supported three formal admonishments of Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) last year, and ousted the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee for failing to toe the party line on spending. The GOP leaders also rammed through a change in House rules to make it more difficult in the future to file an ethics complaint against DeLay or other members.
A Republican leadership aide said the strategy for the week was to undermine any effort by Democrats to make DeLay as divisive and symbolic a figure as former speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was in his day. "They want to 'Newter' DeLay - to isolate him and make him the issue, not any policy issue," the aide said.
But Republicans had already made other changes, both large and small, to diminish the influence of Democratic lawmakers. For instance, Republicans have made it harder for Democrats to offer amendments to pending bills or participate in conference committees, where House and Senate versions of bills are reconciled. Democrats complain that Republicans even make it hard for voters to reach Democratic committee Web sites by making users going through the majority's home page. Republicans respond that the system is designed to avoid confusion since there is only one committee, and add that if they wanted to be tyrannical, they would not let the minority have Web pages at all.
Democrats and some Republicans, troubled by the moves, cite parallels between today's Republicans and the Democrats who lost their 40-year hold on the House in 1994 after Gingrich and other conservatives campaigned against them as autocratic and corrupt, and gained 52 seats.
"It took Democrats 40 years to get as arrogant as we have become in 10," one Republican leadership aide said.
Julian E. Zelizer, a Boston University history professor who edited the 2004 anthology "The American Congress," said Republicans used the past week to "accelerate the trend toward strong, centralized parties."
"This is a move toward empowering the leadership even beyond what you saw in the 1970s and 1980s," Zelizer said. "They have been going for broke."
Republican lawmakers acknowledge that they are acting partly out of Darwinian necessity. With a narrow 232 to 201 margin over Democrats, and a historical tendency for the party holding the White House to lose seats in midterm elections, the Republicans say they cannot afford defections or internal dissension.
The Republicans' first piece of business upon returning to the Capitol was to approve a new set of operating rules, including one that would curtail future ethics investigations. Under the change, a vote from at least one member of each party would be required before the ethics committee could begin an inquiry. The committee is evenly divided between the two parties, and under the old rules a deadlock meant an investigation began automatically. Now it will take the affirmative vote of at least one Republican to launch an investigation.
"It was necessary to depoliticize the ethics committee and force investigations to move on a bipartisan basis, not on a partisan one," the leadership aide said.
Under pressure from some GOP lawmakers who feared their leaders were going too far, the House backed away from another provision that would have made it even more difficult to discipline lawmakers for unethical behavior, and rescinded a Republican rule approved last November that would have allowed DeLay to continue as majority leader even if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating political fundraising.
But in apparent retribution for the admonitions of DeLay, Hastert has begun looking for a replacement for Hefley, who was viewed as too independent. Republicans assert that the change is occurring only because, according to the House parliamentarian, Hefley has served the maximum number of terms on the committee that rules allow.
House leaders also replaced Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who was beloved by veterans and did not hold down spending the way leaders wanted. The new chairman is Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), who convinced party leaders during a rigorous job interview that he would be tougher.
A leadership aide described Smith as "just not a team player." To underscore their point, leaders not only demoted Smith but also removed him from the committee.
Late last week, the leadership picked veteran Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) as the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Lewis's first action was to oust staff director James W. Dyer, a 10-year veteran of the committee who was a frequent target of conservative critics. Hastert also added a seat to the Republican side of the committee, increasing his party's margin over Democrats from seven to eight.
"There is a purge going on around here," said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).
Critics say Republicans are taking a risk by further alienating Democrats, because President Bush may need a few Democrats to vote for his agenda items - most notably, an overhaul of Social Security - to give political cover to the GOP.
"They say they want bipartisanship," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who is to be announced today as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "I think they need it. But there is no room for it when they run a political and legislative strategy that is abhorrent to bipartisanship, then bemoan the lack of civility."
Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) poked fun at the Republicans by handing out two pages of quotes from today's leaders railing against the arrogance of Democratic leaders before the GOP won control in 1994. "Republicans Backtrack on Ethics Principles from the 1980s and 1990s," blared his headline.
Defending his fellow Republicans, Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (Calif.) said members of the public understand due process and the presumption of innocence and so will approve of last week's ethics rule change. He said that rather than autocracy, the tone that was being set was "strong leadership."
"We are a stronger party today than we were at the first of the week because we have so successfully worked through these things," he said.
Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) said her party had showed "a strong voice" in the opening week of the 109th Congress. Asked whether ethics would linger as an issue, she said, "I think we did a good job of putting all that to bed."