Congress seeks to take control of Capitol Architect office from president

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday to take control of the Architect of the Capitol’s office from the president, following recent turmoil and staff changes in the office overseeing the Capitol complex.

The top Republicans and Democrats on the House Administration Committee and Senate Rules Committee — Reps. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) — put forward the bill to establish a congressional commission to appoint and remove the Architect of the Capitol.

The president is currently the only person who has the authority to fire the Architect of the Capitol. The push to give Congress this authority comes after President Bided fired former Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton in February.

Blanton faced calls to resign after an inspector general report alleged that he misused a government vehicle and impersonated a law enforcement officer. He was nominated by former President Trump and confirmed by the Senate for a 10-year term in 2019.

Several more senior officials in the Architect of the Capitol’s office were asked to resign or face termination last month, including General Counsel Jason Baltimore, Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Kraft, Chief Administrative Officer William O’Donnell and Chief of Staff Peter Bahm.

“In light of recent events, it is clear the process for selecting an individual for such a critical position was in need of reform,” Morelle said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This bill will give Congress sole responsibility in selecting new leadership and, when necessary, the authority to hold bad actors accountable,” Steil added.

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