Campus Notebook: Parking Perk Perishes

Posted January 27, 2009 at 6:30pm

Members-turned-lobbyists can no longer park in Congressional buildings after the House Administration Committee passed new parking regulations on Tuesday.

[IMGCAP(1)]Until now, all former Representatives could park in a House garage if they had their old Member parking plates and ID. But the newly passed regulation prohibits registered lobbyists from using old Member plates or getting temporary parking permits.

House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) said the House has “enough Members” and the rule will free up some space.

“I may be a former Member one day,” he said. “I’m not that happy with it, but it is what it is.”

The rule is just the latest limitation for lobbyists. In 2006, the House passed a reform package that barred Members-turned-lobbyists from accessing the chamber floor and the House gym.

Dave Wenhold, president of the American League of Lobbyists, said it seemed like a fair restriction — especially since most lobbyists already have to deal with hard-to-find parking or a long walk to Congress in the snow.

“I’m sure it’s very important for [former Members], but for the rest of us, we have to park where we can find parking,” he said. “I think it’s an appropriate rule.”

Inauguration Answers, Via Facebook. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer chatted Tuesday on Facebook with angry ticket-holders who never got into the inauguration.

Gainer offered few details on why two gates closed and thousands of people had to wait in the Third Street tunnel.

Such questions, he said, should be answered in a review, due within 60 days, conducted by the Secret Service, Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police Department, Park Police and the House and Senate Sergeants-at-Arms.

However, Gainer said, preliminary information suggested that there was room for more people in “overflow areas,” while the flow of people through the Purple Gate was very slow. Why that happened is unanswered, he said, and a central question for the review.

But he said he regretted the inability of officials “to respond to the chaos which unfolded.”

“I have watched hours of tapes of several of the gates to the Capitol grounds,” he wrote. “I saw thousands of people in massive groups. Movement seemed impossible. They yelled for information and guidance. It apparently fell on deaf ears. [Whether] it is 5000 or 10,000, it is too many.”

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