The Capitol itself was open and pronounced safe. But all six congressional office buildings remained closed as technicians continued to check for anthrax--a process that may take weeks. Officials say the Hart Building where the letter containing anthrax was found may have to be sealed and sprayed with a decontamination gas before its safe.
With no offices, thousands of congressional staffers were spread across town. Some were bused to work space at the General Accounting Office, others to a post office museum. Still others went to Republican and Democratic campaign offices.
If the capitol has to be closed, the House will hold its sessions at nearby Fort McNair. The Senate will meet at a downtown hotel.
In the meantime, one congressional hearing was held at the office of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
Senate staffers crammed into tiny, closet-like spaces in the Capitol. One congressman set up shop on the lawn, and a Senate committee met in the basement.
Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said, "We are in the tombs of the Capitol."
The anthrax found here and the anthrax deaths of postal workers who had been told their workspace was safe have caused everyone here to think differently.
Majority Leader Tom Daschle said, "We would be foolish not to treat all mail in the future as if we could experience another attack of some kind."
Daschle says no congressional mail has been opened since his office received the letter filled with anthrax and there is reason for such concern. The FBI has determined the anthrax in that letter was so potent and so fast moving that one person who tested positive from being exposed to it was not only outside the room, but 20 yards away in a corridor.
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