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POLITICS

Budget cuts close Capitol Hill doors, create longer wait lines

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio

The deep budget cuts of sequestration has not stopped the U.S. Capitol from offering tours to the public, but others with business here are having to wait in long lines.

The police board announced that beginning this week, it has made "access changes" to the Capitol complex "which may increase wait times" for those trying to get to work in the Capitol or the House and Senate office buildings.

In other words, fewer doors are open.

Sequestration took effect on March 1 and will result in about $85 billion in cuts to the federal budget this year.

House Republican leaders ordered lawmakers to trim their budgets by 8.2 percent, mirroring the same level of cuts required by other agencies under sequestration.

The Capitol police department was apparently not exempt from this order.

On Tuesday morning, lines formed in a wind-driven downpour outside some House office buildings, while police officers turned away soaking wet staff at other doors and instructed them to walk to different entrances, sometimes blocks away.

"Sequestration," one police officer explained to a staffer who tried to enter the Rayburn building's First Street entrance. Two police officers, one holding a security wand, were not otherwise occupied at the door, but nonetheless refused to let anyone in. "This entrance is officially closed," one officer said.

Capitol Police Board Chairman Terry Gainer last week wrote to lawmakers and congressional staffers warning of pending closure of nine entrances, including one at the Capitol. Three vehicle entrances and two garage door entrances are also shuttered due to the budget cuts.

Gainer blamed "limited law enforcement resources" and said additional police posts have been affected by sequestration but that security will not be reduced.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner