Frequent visitors to the Capitol and its office buildings know the drill: Enter, remove all bags, send personal items through an X-ray machine or let a Capitol Police officer inspect inside, and walk through a metal detector.
It's a standard security checkpoint—but not for many House staffers who drive to work. In their case, as a National Journal reporter experienced last year, an officer meets the car at a barricade. But once a staffer parks, he or she can enter some House buildings without going through a metal detector or ever having bags searched.
But that may soon change.
At a House Administration Committee hearing Wednesday, House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving briefly mentioned a garage security-enhancement project. Its purpose: to address "existing vulnerabilities" and to enhance the security of the chamber's office buildings.
"The goal ultimately is to restrict the number of access points, so that everyone can undergo security screening," Irving said during the hearing. "There will be some conveniences that will be dispensed with, but I will say that we will do everything we can do to make sure members have access to the doors that they require."
It's a multi-phase project. The first would install the infrastructure and hardware to be able to lock down the garage entrances during an emergency. The second requires a design and feasibility study performed in conjunction with the Sergeant at Arms, the Architect of the Capitol, and the Capitol Police to ensure that all who enter the House Office buildings undergo "a consistent level of screening to ensure the safety and security of all those who work and visit our House office buildings." (There is a security checkpoint with metal detectors and X-ray machines for both visitors and staffers before they enter the U.S. Capitol through an interconnecting tunnel in a House Office building).