Mr. Speaker, the Capitol Hill hall monitors have issued warning citations to Members of Congress. That's right; Republicans and Democrats all over the hill are getting busted. The dastardly offense was paying tribute to American warriors by placing a poster outside the office with photos of our troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. That's right. We're getting written up for honoring the memory of fallen soldiers from our home States and districts.
Here is my citation. I got busted for having a sign-in table and easel with a poster in the hallway. And this is the poster that I got written up for, Mr. Speaker. This letter says I have 30 days to comply with the new hallway policy or I will be in violation of this new edict.
You see, Mr. Speaker, many of my colleagues and I choose to honor the men and women who have fought so bravely and given their lives in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So we display a poster like this one.
This poster represents the 26 men and women of the Second Congressional District area of Texas that have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We post these displays outside our offices so that we, our staff, and visitors will be constantly reminded of the sacrifice of our troops.
Our type of government exists because real Americans go to war and some of them don't come back. And these photos are of some, 26, of those Americans. Now the hall monitors want us to take them down. They say they are an ``obstacle.''
I will now read from the edict from the sign police that stealthily roam our hallways looking for violators of this hall monitoring proclamation. It says:
``In an emergency evacuation, the many items placed in the hallways of House office buildings interfere with the safe exit of Members, staff, and visitors ..... This policy was developed in response to a complaint regarding the proliferation of items placed in the hallways and responsive recommendation by the Office of Compliance. Its adoption was further recommended by the Committee on House Administration and supported by the Office of the Architect of the Capitol; the Office of Emergency Planning, Preparedness, and Operations; the House Sergeant at Arms; the Inspector General; the Chief Administrative Officer; and the Office of Compliance.'' And, Mr. Speaker, I will introduce this edict and this warning letter into the Record.
July 3, 2008.
Room No. 1605.
The attached letter, dated May 2, 2008, announced the issuance of a Hallway Policy intended to reduce hallway obstacles. The Hallway Policy can be viewed at http://housenet.house.gov (search on ``hallway policy'') or http://house.aoc.gov. We are now entering the final 30 days of the transition period established by the Committee on House Administration. In accordance with our responsibility to administer and enforce this Policy we note the following violations of the Policy:
(1) sign in table;
While we are still in the transition period we are bringing this issue to your attention in order to provide you with the opportunity to bring your office into compliance. The policy will be in full force and effect on August 2, 2008, and after that date all items that violate the Hallway Policy will be removed.
If you require assistance or have any questions, please contact First Call+ at 202-225-8000 or the House Superintendent's Service Center at 202-225-4141. We sincerely appreciate your cooperation in this matter.CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
Washington, DC, May 2, 2008.
DEAR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, COMMITTEE CHAIRS, HOUSE OFFICERS, SUPPORT OFFICES, AND STAFF: In an emergency evacuation, the many items placed in the hallways of House Office Buildings can interfere with the safe exit of Members, staff, and visitors, as well as pose tripping hazards for disabled persons on a daily basis. In order to improve House compliance with the requirements of the Congressional Accountability Act, the Life Safety Code, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the House Office Building Commission has adopted the attached policy relating to hallway obstacles.
This policy was developed in response to a complaint regarding the proliferation of items placed in the hallways and responsive recommendations by the Office of Compliance. Its adoption was further recommendedby the Committee on House Administration and supported by the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the Office of Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Operations, the House Sergeant at Arms, the Inspector General, the Chief Administrative Officer, and the Office of Compliance.
The policy specifies only limited circumstances in which items may be placed or stored in a hallway or exit access area of a House Office Building. The policy also governs the removal of easels and similar signage, electronic kiosks, flag stands, and sign-up tables.
As the attached document indicates, the Chief Administrative Officer and the Superintendent of the House Office Buildings will share responsibility for implementation and enforcement of policy. The Committee on House Administration has directed us to provide a transition period over the next three months, which begins as of the date of this letter. During that period the House Superintendent also will ensure that appropriate wall-mounted flag holders are installed for Committee offices.
It is our hope the new policy will result in unobstructed hallways to ensure the protection of all Members, staff, and visitors in the case of emergencies.
Should you have any questions, please contact First Call Plus or the House Superintendents Service Center. We sincerely appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Mr. Speaker, it seems like a lot of bureaucrats are involved in patrolling the hallways of Congress, and I wonder what all this nonsense costs the taxpayer. As you will notice, Mr. Speaker, the letter refers to a single complaint, and then all of these bureaucrats went into action.
The visitors to my office call this poster a fitting tribute and thank me for honoring our troops. Apparently, the congressional hall monitors have nothing better to do with their time and taxpayer money than to regulate hall traffic and posters. One would think that in the big scheme of things, American citizens, especially the families of the fallen, would want Members of Congress to display these tributes rather than not display them. But the hall police say that if I don't take it down by the end of the month that they will remove it and trash it because it's an ``obstacle'' in their steely bureaucratic eyes.
I hope the Architect of the Capitol changes this improper edict. Is Congress going to have to pass a law to keep these tributes on display? Well, maybe. By the way, Mr. Speaker, this arbitrary rule, in my opinion, violates the first amendment of free speech and freedom of expression.
In the meantime, I am going to have to respectfully refuse to comply. Our poster isn't going anywhere. To coin a phrase used in the Texas War of Independence, ``Come and take it'' if you dare.
And that's just the way it is.
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