WASHINGTON – Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, when you shower your loved one with flowers and chocolates and champagne — and other things we don’t want to know about.
But if your true love works in the Capitol, it is also a day of logistics and careful planning, to ensure that your public exhibition of affection actually reaches your beloved, instead of getting stopped by the Capitol Police.
The Senate sergeant at arms enforces strict rules about what arrangements of flowers can be brought into the Capitol, who brings them in, and how they arrive. (The House sergeant at arms has identical rules.)
If you order flowers for your Senate staffer sweetheart and the florist sends them via FedEx, UPS, or DHL, she’s not going to get them until next week, warns a memo from the Senate Sergeant at Arms.
“These carriers are specifically required to deliver all material addressed to Congressional buildings directly to an off-site mail and package testing facility. Items delivered to that facility will not be available for approximately 72 hours from receipt,” warns a memo from the SAA sent to all Senate offices.
Better, you might think, to have the flowers delivered by an individual delivery person. But then, you’ll have to run and meet the delivery person “in an outside public area.” Delivery persons cannot enter the Capitol; instead, you must “bring the flowers into the Senate office complex yourself.”
Of course, you may have to give those flowers to the object of your affection in that same public place, because even if once you have the flowers in your hand, you may still not be able to bring them into the building.
“Only cut flowers set in water or arranged in an unsealed box or carton may be brought into the Senate office buildings or Capitol,” warns the SAA memo. Those flowers may only be brought into the Capitol by “staff bearing valid identification badges.”