60 Percent of CVC Serves as Member Office Space

Posted November 25, 2008 at 3:45pm

While there may not be a bunker built into the new Capitol Visitor Center, there is a 450-seat Congressional Auditorium tucked underneath the Capitol that can act as a House or Senate chamber if needed.

The auditorium is part of the Capitol’s expanded office space, which in total accounts for 60 percent, or 370,000 square feet, of the CVC. The “expansion” area surrounds Emancipation Hall — the atrium of the CVC — and provides space for committee, caucus and conference meetings.

The House Intelligence Committee left its location on the fourth floor of the Capitol last month and moved to the expansion space on the House side.

“We started our move at the beginning of October, and it’s been sort of a slow process because we have classified material that has to be moved within certain security requirements,” committee spokeswoman Courtney Littig said. “It’s been slow going.”

Forty-four people will be working in the committee’s new digs, which consist of primary and secondary hearing rooms, office space, a library, a conference room and offices for the committee chairman and ranking member. Once the committee completely vacates the office in the Capitol, it will be up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to decide who gets the space.

In addition to the Intelligence Committee’s new office, there is a large committee room that can be reserved as needed.

Decorated with blue fabric walls and wooden panels, the room features three tiers for Members to sit as they hear testimony or mark up legislation. A Democratic aide familiar with the room says there are also meeting spaces that can be used for Caucus and Conference meetings.

In addition to this, there will be a media workspace on the House side, including a radio and TV gallery.

The Senate expansion space will not house any committee offices, but it will provide meeting rooms that can be reserved by Members and committees.

“It primarily has six meeting and event rooms that are potentially for Senate hearings, meetings with constituents and a variety of other special purposes,” said Howard Gantman, staff director for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. “There’s a very strong demand for those.”

The expansion space will also house the Senate Recording Studio and the Office of Senate Security.