Updated at 10:00 a.m.
The House side of the U.S. Capitol was shut down early Thursday after a potential leak of asbestos, the agency responsible for the building said. The House will not gavel in at 10 a.m. as scheduled, but the chamber is expected to convene at noon for legislative business. The U.S. Capitol Police announced in a statement that a staircase and a room in the House will remain closed for further inspection.
“The East Grand Staircase on the House side of the U.S. Capitol Building from floors 1 through 3 and room H-324 will remain closed until further notice,” wrote the Capitol Police in a statement released to House staff at 9:06 a.m. “The rest of the House side of the U.S. Capitol Building will return to normal operations, including tours of the U.S. Capitol.”
According to the Architect of the Capitol, the potential leak may have occurred during asbestos abatement.
A police alert first went out around 7 a.m. Thursday, and Capitol Police Hazardous Materials Response Team is on the scene. “Samples have been collected to determine whether there was potential exposure,” said a AoC spokesperson.
The House Sergeant of Arms sent out an alert at 7.40am: “The House Side of the U.S. Capitol Building is closed until further notice due to an industrial spill. The Architect of the Capitol is continuing testing of the area. All Members and staff should avoid the area until further notice.”
—With reporting by Jay Newton-Small and Alex Rogers