Joint Hill conference this week to discuss security measures, concerns

The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus said Sunday that lawmakers will meet for a special joint conference on Wednesday to discuss security measures and concerns in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in her home district Saturday.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) spoke to reporters after about 800 lawmakers, staffers and family members took part in an hour-and-a-half conference call Sunday afternoon.

Giffords's chief of staff, Pia Carusone, was among those speaking on the call, thanking members for their support and giving an update on the congresswoman's condition, according to a congressional source.

Larson said the sergeant at arms, Bill Livingood, and Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse went over specific concerns on the call, and those specific recommendations will be printed out and given to members at the Wednesday conference.


"The primary thing is to make sure all members are coordinating their efforts with local police officials," Larson said.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called for a thorough review of security measures. 

According to a readout of the conference call, Boehner said he had asked Larson and House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) to arrange the "in-depth security overview."

In addition, the sergeant at arms and Capitol Police will conduct a bipartisan security briefing for district directors.

"This is a time for the House to lock arms, both in condemnation of this heinous act, and in prayer for those killed and wounded in this attack," Boehner said. "At a time when an individual has shown us humanity at its worst, we must rise to the occasion for our nation and show Congress at its best."

Also on Wednesday, Congress will meet to consider a resolution honoring Giffords and the other victims of the shooting. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced that Congress will only meet pro forma on Tuesday, with no votes scheduled.

“At the request of bipartisan Members from the Arizona delegation and the Democratic Leadership, it is my intention to not have a recorded vote for the resolution," Cantor said in a statement Sunday. "As Members know, however, we cannot assure that a recorded vote will not be requested. We will continue to be in close contact with the Democratic Leadership regarding those matters, along with the substance of the resolution, and will relay them as they become available."

Cantor recommended that all House members who are able should return to Washington "to honor those who have fallen" and receive Wednesday's security briefing.

"Members certainly will take all the precautions," Larson said, stressing that lawmakers will continue to hold public events. But he noted that there are many new members who had not been through previous security scares, such as the anthrax mailings following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and leaders want to make sure that all members and their spouses receive security information.

Larson thanked the new Speaker for his leadership in "this great time of need."

He said that Congress was coming together to "ensure that we're all in this together to improve the lives of the people we serve."

"It's the kind of thing that shows Congress at its best," Larson said.


—This story was updated at 3:50 p.m.