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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 21:29 GMT 22:29 UK
Capitol Hill: Calm, cautious, determined
People queuing
Senate staff members stood in line to be screened for anthrax
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

US Senate staff members queued on Tuesday to be checked for exposure to anthrax.

The screening was described as a precaution after anthrax was discovered on a letter sent to the Democratic leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle.

The mood on Capitol Hill was calm, cautious but determined.

Both legislators and their staffers see it as their patriotic duty to keep going about the country's business.

Gauging the mood

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas turned out at the screening centre to gauge the mood of staffers.

"It's difficult because here is a route that terrorists or somebody who seeks to do us harm is trying to deliver a deadly agent," he said.
Police guard area
A wing of a Senate office building was shut as a precaution

"But I think it's more [of a mood] right now where people take the necessary precautions and then redouble our efforts," he added.

Some of the early precautions included closing the wing of the office building where the letter was opened. It was shut to make sure that none of the anthrax spores were being spread through the ventilation system.

Mail was also being screened before being sent to offices.

Mr Brownback was optimistic. "This is a blip. We'll do the right precautions, and then we'll press forward," he said.

But he also sounded a defiant note.

While some have suggested that Congress should finish its business quickly and then recess for the remainder of the year, Senator Brownback would have none of it.

"We're not going out of session. We're not going to let the terrorists run the government. We're not going to live in fear. We're resolved, and we're going to live in hope," he said.

'Feeling up and determined'

Staffers seemed more annoyed than worried, more determined than deterred.

Jennifer Bond works in the offices of Senator Joseph Lieberman. "We're pretty calm, but we were told that it was a pretty good idea to get checked," she said, as she stood in line for testing.

She had been told that there was little chance of infection, but "we're being really cautious".

As for morale on Capitol Hill, she said, "I'm feeling very up and very determined." She added, "I am feeling very pro-American and was happy to be serving in the Senate. We're not going to let this get us down."

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Americas
Tracking the anthrax spore
15 Oct 01 | World
Anthrax fears shake world
15 Oct 01 | Health
Q&A: Anthrax
10 Oct 01 | Health
Anthrax: How do you stop it?
16 Oct 01 | Europe
Anthrax alerts across Europe
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