Smoke-Filled Hallways Don't Phase Senators
By Shailagh Murray and Paul Kane
A presidential speech means the highest state of security in the Capitol, but late Tuesday afternoon, the second floor of the Senate side filled with smoke and smelled like a campfire, and the police just shrugged and opened windows and doors.
The culprit: Sen. Jon Kyl's fireplace. Staff operating the Arizona Republican's fireplace didn't properly work the ventilation systems, smoking out a portion of the floor. So much so that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) ducked into the office once used by John F. Kennedy after securing the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination and considered semi-hallow ground by Democrats to ensure the room was in order.
Other senators milled about with their guests for the evening, fanning away the fumes. "What's this all about?" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid exclaimed as he walked off the floor after a vote. "Hey, I thought the smoke-filled room was a thing of the past," quipped Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
The Senate smoke alarms stayed silent throughout the ordeal.
Posted at 6:29 PM ET on Feb 24, 2009
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