Who knew the halls of Congress can get any rowdier than the debate over Obamacare?
Ahead of this year’s Memorial Day and Independence Day festivities, the Capitol Police Board has served notice to congressional leaders: No more “breach of decorum or conduct that could prove embarrassing to the Congress.”
Seems that VIP revelers at the free holiday concerts and fireworks on the National Mall – for which the Capitol steps, balconies and terraces offer House representatives, Senators and congressional staff irresistible vantage points and picnic spots – have gotten out of hand.
While there have been no arrests attributed to drinking in the Capitol, a CNN source said there have been falls and injuries due to excessive alcohol consumption – including one “near fall from a balcony that could have catastrophic.”
“The enormous growth in the sheer number of people inside the Capitol on the evening of both concerts has made enforcement of the basic rules of decorum extremely difficult to manage or enforce,” officials in charge of Capitol security wrote congressional leaders in a letter reported by CNN.
Beyond decorum, there are security concerns over the “numerous guests of staff” who arrive at the Capitol bearing coolers “sanctioned as ‘staff property’ and allowed to bypass” the normal ban on unscreened liquids, the police board wrote.
Plus, there’s the cost of such exclusive partying.
The letter noted that last year those two concerts alone cost taxpayers $735,252 in 12,174 hours of Capitol Police overtime – a chunk of that coming just from allowing VIP access to the building after hours.