WASHINGTON — The half of the U.S. Capitol that houses the U.S. House of Representatives was shut down today as authorities investigated a possible near-passage of upcoming legislation.
The emergency closure of the U.S. House was brought on by the imminent passing of House Resolution 588 concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents. When Karen L. Haas, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, noticed that H.R. 588 was going to pass, she immediately shut the entire chamber down and notified Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.
“Even though it was the middle of the night, I knew I had to act quickly,” said Haas, explaining why the building was shut down starting approximately 3:00 am. “I saw that 588 didn’t have any detractors, meaning it was in danger of passing with a bipartisan majority. God knows what would have happened then.”
Haas’ quick thinking saved the House from actually passing legislation, something the Republican leadership in the House has tried to avoid. ”They installed that big red button on my desk for just this type of emergency,” added Haas.
The Capitol building shut-down encompassed the three main floors of the building. Tours of the Capitol have been suspended, and one of the main entrances to the building has been closed.
“Thank God Karen acted when she did,” said Boehner. “H.R. 588 is such an innocuous little thing, it just never occurred to any of us that it would pass.”
The bill “expresses concern over the increasing number of new adoption cases that have been opened and the impact on children and families of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s suspension of exit permits” and “respectfully requests that the Congolese Government resume issuing exit permits for all children that have been adopted, and continue processing adoptions that are already underway.”
“Well of course it was going to pass,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Who wouldn’t vote for something that basically says ‘we’re so sad that you’re being mean to kids and we’d like to ask you stop being mean to kids’ without actually doing anything about the issue? It’s a no-brainer. I don’t know what Boehner was thinking.”
Despite the threat of passing legislation, the Senate side of the Capitol building remained open. “We’re not that worried about getting anything done in the Senate,” remarked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “If anything gets close somebody will just filibuster it to death.”