Office of the Sergeant at Arms
Office of Chamber Security
Room HB6 U.S. Capitol
The responsibilities of the Office of Chamber Security include:
- Regulating admittance to the House Floor for Members and authorized staff
- Administering all ticketed events in the House Chamber, such as the State of the Union Address and Joint Meetings of Congress
- Distributing gallery passes to Member offices
- Coordinating access to the House Visitor's Gallery for prearranged group tours
In addition, the office:
- Provides a messenger service to Members while they are on the House floor relaying messages from staff and the press
- Maintains decorum, as prescribed by the Speaker, on the House Floor
Access to the House Gallery
Gallery passes are distributed by the Sergeant at Arms office, Office of Chamber Security, in blocks of 500 to each Member's office. Member offices then distribute the passes to individual constituents. Constituents should walk to their Member's office, obtain a pass, and then they will be permitted into the gallery.
Additional Passes for Member Offices
Member's offices should send or fax a letter stating the need to acquire additional (500) passes. If passes are needed immediately, a staff member (permanent or intern) with a House ID may walk over with the letter to pick up the passes in HB-6 in the Capitol. If the letter is mailed or faxed (x5-0890) to this office, a page will be called to bring the passes to the Member's office.
Large Group Access
Instead of giving individual Gallery passes to each member of a large group (over 20 people), Member offices may send a letter to the Sergeant at Arms stating the name of the group, size of the group, expected date and time of arrival and the person leading the group. Chamber Security will then send a confirmation letter back to the Member's office, 3-4 weeks before arrival of the group, granting access to the Gallery at an estimated time. This confirmation letter should then be used a gallery pass for the group.
Groups are not permitted into the gallery (and access must be rescheduled for another date or time) if a special event (i.e. Joint Meeting, Caucus or Conference) is scheduled for the Chamber.
Visiting the Gallery When the House is Out of Session
If the House is out of session, your constituents do not need Gallery passes. The Capitol Police and Security Aides stationed on the Gallery level will escort the groups/constituents into the Gallery.
Foreign visitors need to present their identification (passport, drivers license, etc.) to the Appointment Desk at the South Door. They will be given a foreign visitors pass and admitted to the gallery.
Click Here to VIEW THE RULES WHILE VISITING THE HOUSE GALLERY
Access to the House Floor when the House is NOT in Session
Taking a Group Onto the House Floor
If a Members Office (Member or permanent staff) has a group they would like to take onto the floor when the House is out of session, they must contact the Speaker's office at x5-2204 to schedule a time. The Sergeant at Arms office only controls access to the Chamber when the House is in session. The Speakers office has stated that staff (permanent staff only, not interns) are only permitted to bring groups of fewer than ten (10) people onto the House floor. A Member must be present for larger groups. Neither Members nor staff are permitted to bring groups onto the Floor when the House is in recess, whether subject to the call of the Chair or until a set time.
On the weekends and holidays, the House Floor is closed to all staff. A Member may arrange to have the Floor open on the weekend or holiday by contacting the Office of the Sergeant at Arms at x5-2456. However, the Member must be present during the tour of the Floor.
Staff Access to the House Floor When the House is in Session
Only Members and authorized staff are permitted on the Floor when the House is in session. Authorized staff include leadership staff and support staff (bill clerks, tally clerks, parliamentarians, certain Committee staff, etc.).
Staff Accompanying a Member While the Member Offers an Amendment
Staff are permitted onto the floor to assist their Member with an amendment when the Member is recognized to offer the amendment. Only the Member who stands to offer the Amendment may have a staff person on the floor. Such staff should proceed to the Speaker's Lobby and present their valid House ID to the Chamber Security staff stationed in the Lobby. The staff person will receive a card that the Member should fill out, then keep the card with them at all times while on the Floor. Following consideration of the amendment, staff must exit the Floor. ONLY ONE STAFF PERSON PER SPONSORING MEMBER IS PERMITTED ONTO THE FLOOR FOR THIS PURPOSE.
Members Seat Assignments on the Floor
Unlike the Senate, the House has no assigned seating or desks. Members may sit anywhere they like. Traditionally, the Democrats sit to the Speaker's right and the Republicans to the Speaker's left.
Tickets for Joint Meetings/Sessions
Receiving a Ticket for a Joint Meeting/Session
Each Member receives one (1) ticket for the Galleries for each Joint Meeting/Session. This ticket may used by the Member for anyone he/she would like, including spouse, constituent, or staff. The Member does not need a ticket, as he/she will be on the Floor for the event.
Extra Tickets for a Joint Meeting/Session
There are approximately 600 seats in the Gallery, and after each House and Senate Member receives his/her ticket, along with the tickets assigned to the guests of the addressee, very few tickets remain. Members may request extra tickets by calling the Chamber Security office (x5-0067) and placing a request. Requests are taken on a first come, first served basis for any available ticket, and should include the Members name, phone number, room number, name of staff person making request, and who the ticket is for (staff, constituent, etc.). Members should be advised that most of these extra tickets are standing room and step seats (literally sitting on the steps) in the Galleries.
Selection of Guest at a Joint Meeting/Session
The Speaker of the House invites the guest to address Congress when he feels it is appropriate.
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