Anthrax Scare Closes House

10/17/2001 4:01 AM Eastern

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) plans to close the House Thursday
until next Tuesday to allow security teams to sweep government buildings and
offices for anthrax and other threats.

Hastert confirmed that 29 staffers of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle
(D-S.D.) have been exposed to anthrax, according to Cable News Network. The
staffers have been exposed, but they have not contracted the deadly disease, CNN

Daschle's office received an envelope with what authorities described as a
highly potent form of anthrax, causing authorities to test hundreds of Senate
employees for the germ. Daschle's office was quarantined Monday.

CNN also reported Hastert as saying that anthrax spores were found in the
Senate ventilation system.

Daschle is expected to hold a press conference noon Wednesday to discuss
whether he plans to follow Hastert's lead by closing the Senate.

In remarks to reporters Wednesday, Hastert said he intends for the House to
return to work Tuesday to complete action on anti-terrorism legislation and
spending bills.

'It's not our intent to close shop,' Hastert said at a televised news
conference, adding that Congress had a job to do despite the biological attack.
'We are not going to relinquish that duty,' he said.

Hastert's decision means that a House subcommittee hearing on the transition
to digital television scheduled for Thursday is likely to be postponed. 'I think
that's a very reasonable assumption,' a House Energy and Commerce Committee
spokesman said.

Cable Television Laboratories Inc. president and CEO Richard Green and C-SPAN
chairman and CEO Brian P. Lamb were scheduled to testify at the hearing.

The anthrax cases in Washington, D.C., follow cases in New York at NBC and
ABC and in Florida at American Media Inc.

An ABC News producer's seven-month-old infant contracted cutaneous anthrax
after visiting the network's New York bureau Sept. 28, officials said Monday

Two NBC News employees have tested positive for anthrax, including the
assistant to NBCNightly News anchor Tom Brokaw. The NBC News
employees contracted anthrax that was contained in a threatening letter
addressed to Brokaw.

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