After Wednesday, California Will Have Its Own Saint in Capitol

The statue of Junípero Serra overlooks members of Congress and the media in Statuary Hall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Battles over historic symbols can get heated, as Congress learned this summer in the Confederate battle flag fight . But a little controversy isn't stopping Pope Francis from weighing in on the debate over one of California's key historical figures — a frontier-era priest whose statue is prominently displayed in the U.S. Capitol.  

On Wednesday, the pope will canonize Junípero Serra, a Franciscan priest — revered by Catholics and reviled by some Native Americans —  who founded nine of the state's 21 missions in the 1700s and brought Catholicism to the new world. To supporters — including the pope — he's a saint, despite the church's subjugation at the time of California's native peoples. Some historians say it's unfair to judge Serra through the lens of modern morals and standards. When indigenous tribes were viewed as subhuman by Spanish settlers, Serra saw their "intrinsic dignity," said one supporter.  

Pope Visit Comes During Tumultuous Time for Capitol Police

Critics of the chief called for an immediate change in leadership. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Capitol Police is just one of the scores of agencies coordinating a massive security strategy for Pope Francis' visit to U.S. soil, but its approximately 1,700 sworn officers and 300 civilian staff will be key to keeping the pontiff and the public safe during the pope's Thursday speech to a joint meeting of Congress.  

Members say they are confident in security officials, but the department has been plagued by personnel issues and infighting while planning for the papal visit. On the day federal and local District of Columbia officials convened  to address concerns about security and transit during the pontiff's visit, likening it to an inauguration, Capitol Police union officials ramped up their efforts to undermine outgoing Chief Kim C. Dine, who plans to retire in January.  

House Spending Review: Do Members Need Accounting Lessons?

If rules change after Schock, how will members get up to speed?  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Rep. Scott Rigell came to Congress in 2011, he wore two phones on his hip. One was government-issued for official use; the other was a personal phone.  

The official handbook for House members lists bills for telecommunications devices and services as one of 15 advance payments that can be cut from the more than $1 million each member is allotted to run Capitol Hill and district offices. But additional rules govern where, when and how those cellphones and tablets can be used, depending on the purpose and who pays. The Virginia Republican's election to the House was the former auto dealer’s first political position, other than a four-year stint on a state motor-vehicle dealer board. And he was determined to abide by the laws governing official resources — a set of rules and procedures under scrutiny in the wake of Illinois Republican Aaron Schock's resignation .  

On Unattended Guns, Questions Linger for Capitol Police

Dine is nearing the end of a 90-day probationary period with the Capitol Police Board. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Called before Congress for an oversight hearing after a tumultuous few weeks of reports of loaded service weapons left in problematic places around the Capitol and an ongoing hunt for employees who may have leaked internal information, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine promised the acts would be dealt with “firmly and effectively.”  

But 10 weeks after that hearing, and six months after the first incident, only one of the officers who left a weapon unattended has been disciplined. The agent assigned to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail who left his Glock and magazine stuffed in the toilet seat cover holder of a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom stall served a six-day suspension without pay. He remains on assignment with the Kentucky Republican.  

Should Congressional Research Service Reports Be Public?

Lance says the information in CRS reports belongs to the American people. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The walls between members of the public and Capitol Hill's exclusive division of policy and legal analysts are too tall, according to transparency advocates both inside and outside of Congress.  

Such sentiment is prompting their calls to lawmakers with jurisdiction over the Library of Congress and the House clerk's office to examine making public the highly regarded work of the Congressional Research Service. "By providing public access to CRS reports, we can elevate our national discourse and make it easier for citizens to cut through the misinformation that too often confuses the national debate," Reps. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., and Mike Quigley, D-Ill., wrote in a June 17 letter to House Administration Committee leaders.  

Capitol Evaluates Own Cybersecurity After OPM Hack

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As news broke that data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management affected more than 22 million people , Senate staffers received a notice from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms about the chamber's own cybersecurity.  

"As a result of recent data breaches in other areas of government, a reassessment of our cybersecurity posture was implemented," read the Thursday email obtained by CQ Roll Call. The message then described updates to logging into the Senate's Web VPN service, or workers' remote access to their Senate accounts. The missive reflected that campus administrators are looking inward at the Capitol's cybersecurity systems following the massive data breach at the OPM, which affected congressional staffers and some members of Congress,  since staffer and member data is transferred to the OPM when they leave service. The breach led to intense criticism of the agency, culminating in OPM Director Katherine Archuleta's resignation on Friday.  

Lawmakers Disturbed by Suspension of Suspected Capitol Police Whistleblower

Blunt wonders whether Capitol Police are being forthcoming. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a matter of policy, members of Congress usually refrain from commenting on personnel issues related to the force of 1,775 officers sworn to protect them. But when it comes to fallout for bodyguards who protect top GOP leaders leaving their guns in publicly accessible bathrooms , some lawmakers are criticizing Capitol Police's top brass.  

"We need to do everything we can to protect whistleblowers," said House Oversight and Government Reform Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah., reacting to CQ Roll Call's report that Capitol Police have suspended a sergeant in the Capitol division, allegedly in retribution for a suspected leak. "All we want is for truth to surface and there should be no repercussions for somebody coming and informing Congress about what really happened  especially if they think there was a problem," Chaffetz said.  

Effort to Remove Mississippi Flag From Capitol Stalled

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds in South Carolina moves through the Palmetto State's Legislature this week, the effort to remove the emblem from the U.S. Capitol has stalled.  

The resolution removing the Confederate battle flag, and thus the Mississippi state flag, from the U.S. Capitol was referred to the House Administration Committee in late June. But the committee's chairwoman, Candice S. Miller, R-Mich, appears poised to let the Mississippi state government take the lead. "The Chairman looks forward to hearing from all of Mississippi’s elected representatives regarding this resolution," a committee spokesperson wrote in an email Wednesday. "It is her personal observation after hearing comments made by some of Mississippi’s elected officials at the state level, and watching the action taken by the South Carolina legislature, that the people of Mississippi will‎ most likely take up this issue and resolve it."  

Capitol Police Sergeant Suspended in Gun-in-Bathroom Probe

This photo has caused a firestorm within the agency. (Photo provided to CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police have suspended a sergeant in the Capitol division, allegedly in retribution for a leak related to Roll Call's May 1 report of three incidents  in which officers left loaded guns in problematic places, such as the bathroom.  

The sergeant was one of two senior officials ordered on June 22 to speak with internal affairs investigators in the Office of Professional Responsibility, according to sources within the department. Those sources did not want to speak on the record about disciplinary matters for fear of retribution. Only one returned to work, the sources said, while the sergeant has not been back on duty since. After the lost guns made waves around Capitol Hill, law enforcement officials announced the department's Office of Professional Responsibility and its independent inspector general would review the incidents and report all findings and recommendations to the Capitol Police Board. Police subsequently launched a hunt for the source behind the photo of one unattended Glock service weapon left in a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom.  

Confederate Flag Debate Comes to the House

The Mississippi flag in the Senate subway tunnel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As lawmakers reflected on Confederate symbols in the Capitol, members of the House began to take legislative action on the hotly debated issue.  

Two measures were discussed in the House chamber Thursday: one pertaining to Confederate Battle Flag imagery in the U.S. Capitol, and another banning the iconography from the South Carolina Capitol and any government property. The latter, introduced by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, is an attempt for Congress to weigh in on the debate swirling around the banner at the Palmetto State's capitol following the murders of nine African-American church-goers in Charleston on June 17.