It’s a well-known fact of life on Capitol Hill: It’s nearly impossible to get packages delivered in a timely manner. That includes Valentine’s Day.
Senate staffers are being urged to tell their sweethearts to skip romantic gestures that include deliveries to congressional office buildings this week.
“Many florists use nationwide carriers such as FedEx, UPS and DHL. These carriers are specifically required to deliver all material addressed to Congressional buildings directly to an off-site mail and package testing facility. Items delivered to that facility will not be available for approximately 72 hours from receipt,” warned the memo from the Sergeant-at-Arms Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Sealed envelopes and containers are not allowed, so cards and love letters must be opened outside. Boxes of caramels, truffles or other sugary treats also need to be unsealed.
Those were likely intended for a private moment of joy, not the watchful eyes of Capitol Police.
The memo says that if contacted by a delivery person who wants to deliver cut flowers, staffers should instruct the delivery person to meet outside in a public area.
“You must meet the delivery person and bring the flowers into the Senate office complex yourself,” it says.
Capitol Police are operating this week with special guidelines for flower arrangements, allowing inside only cut flowers set in water or “arranged in an unsealed box or carton.”
Beware the secret admirer is one takeaway from the Sergeant-at-Arms’ Valentine’s message.
“Under no circumstances should staff accept delivery of any type of flower arrangement or other gift if the sender is unknown,” the memo reminds staffers.
The tight package and mail policy proved effective in October, when Capitol Police investigated a package containing an explosive device at a House of Representatives mail processing facility in Capitol Heights, Maryland. The package, addressed to California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, was among a string of suspected explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats.
Since the anthrax attacks in 2001, mail for Congress has been sent to offsite facilities for screening. House and Senate mail is processed separately in two Maryland facilities. This means that mail can take anywhere from 10 to 14 days to reach its destination.
Heard on the Hill hopes your flowers aren’t wilting or sweets spoiling out in Maryland.
Next year, send your sweetheart this story.