Even Lawmakers Warned on Security for Obama's Inauguration

The House sergeant at arms sent out a memo with a list of banned personal items.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers.

Inauguration security is getting so tough that even lawmakers are getting warnings. In a new memo, lawmakers are being cautioned to get in place early for the Inauguration on January 20 and told bluntly not to schedule any meetings or events in their offices until after the new president departs to watch his parade from the reviewing stand outside the White House. What's more, the House sergeant at arms has a new list of banned personal items that includes camera bags and thermoses. His memo is below:


TO: All Members and Staff

FROM: Wilson Livingood, Sergeant at Arms

SUBJECT: Inauguration Day Access and Security Information

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC), in conjunction with the U.S. Capitol Police and the Office of the Sergeant at Arms, continues to engage in extensive planning for the 56th Presidential Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony. This ceremony will be held on the West Front of the United States Capitol on Tuesday, January 20, 2009. As you know, security for this event will be high and we anticipate a record number of visitors to attend. To help you and your office plan, the following information summarizes access and security issues regarding the Inaugural Ceremony.

Please note that plans, logistics and security needs for this historic event continue to be developed by inaugural planners and security agencies in the city, the region and with the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). There may be numerous additional road closures in the Washington Metropolitan area. While these closures are not under our jurisdiction, information regarding access for Members and staff will be developed in conjunction with the U.S. Capitol Police and local law enforcement agencies. This information will be provided to you as soon as it becomes available.

Vehicle Access and Street Closures around the Capitol Complex

As expected, many streets around the Capitol complex will be restricted and/or closed on January 20, 2009. In addition, there will be periodic street closures around the Capitol Complex starting Saturday, January 17, to facilitate the completion of Inaugural preparations at the Capitol. Please carefully review the issues below:

  • It is recommended that Members, staff and guests avoid driving and use alternate means of transportation, if at all possible. If you must drive, please plan your travel routes carefully, monitor traffic reports, and allow additional time to reach your destination.
  • All streets within a four-block radius of the Capitol will be closed to unauthorized traffic (i.e., vehicles without a valid House parking sticker) beginning at 5:00 AM on January 20. An "authorized vehicle" is considered one with a valid House parking permit, with the driver or a passenger displaying a valid House ID card.
  • There will be THREE access points for authorized vehicles on the House side of the Capitol Complex. The access points are: 2nd and C Streets, SE; 1st and D Streets, SE; New Jersey Avenue and D Street, SE (see map attached). No other vehicle access points will be available on this date.
  • Parking will be very limited on January 20. More information on parking will be forthcoming. In order to accommodate Member and essential staff parking, guest parking cannot be accommodated on January 20.
  • Member Access to the Capitol Plaza

    Because of the requirement to stage the Presidential motorcade and helicopter on the Capitol Plaza, parking will be unavailable on the Capitol Plaza and Capitol Drives on January 20. Members need to park in the office building garages.

    Access to the Capitol Because of Inaugural preparations and increased security, the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Visitor Center will be closed to all visitors from 5:00 PM on Saturday, January 17, 2009, until public tours resume at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

    • On Tuesday, January 20, current Members, their spouses, and invited guests who have a Platform ticket will be allowed to enter the Capitol through the House Carriage Entrance, the South Door or the Rayburn or Cannon Tunnel. Both Members and spouses are strongly encouraged to wear their pins to help U.S. Capitol Police expedite their entry into the Capitol.
    • · Please be advised that a regular Congressional Staff Identification card will not permit access to the United States Capitol on January 19 or 20, 2009

      Access to the House Office Buildings All entrances will be open in each of the House Office Buildings on Saturday, January 17, Sunday, January 18, and Monday, January 19, 2009. Entrances will be open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM to enable constituents to access House offices for Inaugural ticket distribution, should offices choose to do so.

      On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, entrances to the House Office Buildings will open at 7:00 AM to Members, staff, and the public on a normal business day schedule. In anticipation of a large number of visitors to offices, the Capitol Police will provide additional security screening at the Horseshoe Entrance to the Rayburn House Office Building and at the Main Entrance to the Longworth House Office Building. Because of this additional security screening, the Rayburn Horseshoe will be closed for vehicular access.

      Based on the need to ensure that access into the House Office Buildings remains open to Members, staff, families, essential personnel, and those last-minute constituents picking up tickets, we strongly discourage offices from scheduling ANY event in the House Office Buildings until the conclusion of the Inaugural Ceremony on January 20, 2009. Security resources simply cannot accommodate the additional workload of screening individuals who do not have an essential reason to be inside the House Office Buildings on January 20. Given the large number of visitors expected to attend this event, it is essential to ensure those who need to get into the Office Buildings have no difficulty doing so.

      Catering Deliveries to the House Office Buildings

      Due to the high volume of visitors to the Capitol area, we strongly recommend that no events are held in the House Office Buildings until after the Inaugural Ceremony. If you choose to have an event, all catering deliveries must be made by 5:00 a.m. on January 20, 2009

      If you do have caterers making deliveries to your House Office building office on January 20, you must provide the Office of the Sergeant at Arms with the following information no later than Friday, January 16:

      • Name of office and location of the event
      • Vehicle information (make, model, tags)
      • Driver information (name, date of birth, SSN)
      • Time of delivery arrival
      • Point of contact (office and caterer)
      • Note: The U.S. Capitol Police will thoroughly screen all deliveries. Because of the large volume of visitors expected in the House Office Buildings, hallway policies will be strictly enforced. Help us ensure that all corridors remain clear and unobstructed in case of an emergency.

        Services in House Offices Buildings

        According to the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), on January 19 and 20, there will be limited food service available in House eateries and no postal mail delivery. Members and staff should plan accordingly. However, the Technology Call Center will be open to provide computer-related support. The CAO encourages employees to periodically check HouseNet for any and all operational notices regarding the Inauguration.Distribution of Inaugural Tickets to Constituents The JCCIC strongly encourages all offices to distribute tickets for the Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony before the day of the ceremony. This will avoid overcrowding in the office buildings on January 20, and will enable your guests to arrive at the ceremony in a timely fashion. Ticket holders should make careful note of the gate directions printed on each ticket, and be aware of the prohibited items list for this event.

        Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

        • Firearms and ammunition (either real or simulated)
        • Explosives of any kind (including fireworks)
        • Knives, blades, or sharp objects (of any length)
        • Mace and/or pepper spray
        • Sticks or poles
        • Pocket or hand tools, such as "Leatherman"
        • Packages
        • Backpacks
        • Large bags
        • Alcoholic Beverages
        • Signs
        • Animals (other than service animals)
        • Camera bags
        • Duffel bags
        • Posters
        • Tripods
        • Laser pointers
        • Umbrellas
        • Strollers
        • Coolers
        • Thermoses
        • Suitcases
        • Other items that may pose a threat to the security of the event as determined by and at the discretion of the security screeners Cameras are permitted on the Capitol Grounds, however, tripods and camera bags are prohibited items. For extensive visitor information, you may wish to direct constituents to the Joint Committee on the Inaugural Ceremony website.

          Your assistance during this event is greatly appreciated. As you know, the Congressional community plays an integral role in the security of the Capitol Complex. Please report any suspicious activity or threatening situations to the U.S. Capitol Police by calling 225-0911.

          We will continue to keep you updated as information becomes available. If you have any further questions or need assistance, please contact my office at 225-2456. Updates will also be posted on the Sergeant at Arms website.