Hunter aide: House closure unnerving

it could be worse

October 19, 2001|By SAM SCOTT, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON (MNS) — It's a long weekend Mike Harrison doesn't want to have to take. Harrison, an El Centro native, usually spends his weekdays on Capitol Hill handling media for Rep. Duncan Hunter, Imperial County's congressman.

On Thursday, Harrison worked the phones from his home in a Washington suburb. Like so many others, he is locked out of his office while congressional buildings are tested for anthrax.

"I don't have to dress up," the 1988 Central Union High School graduate said of working at home.

That's the only positive he sees in it.

In the seven years Harrison has worked for Hunter, he has been prevented from coming to work only one other time — when a blizzard buried his car and iced the roads for days.

But with anthrax found in a letter sent to the Senate majority leader, 31 people on Capitol Hill testing positive for spores and hundreds of people lining up for testing, times are terribly different. The House is closed until Tuesday and nobody is coming into work.


It's a strange time, Harrison said, but it has increased his appreciation for America.

"I've got a stronger sense of appreciation for what our leadership and military does to protect us," he said. "There are a lot people making a lot of sacrifices for us to have the life we have."

Despite the House closing, Harrison stressed that the terrorists have not succeeded in shutting down the American government. On Thursday, Hunter was busy working to iron out differences between the Senate and House versions of the defense bill, Harrison said.

"The work of Congress doesn't occur in just one building," Harrison said. "The work of Congress happens all over the place. Just because the physical locations are down doesn't mean the work of the country isn't happening."

Harrison's parents, Mary and Raymond, still live in El Centro, as they have since Harrison was a small kid. They're proud their only child is working in politics at a time when America is looking to the government for help, but they're a little edgy about him living in a city that has been targeted both by the Sept. 11 plane attacks and the bio-chemical terrorism that followed.

"Of course I'm nervous, but what am I going to do?" Mary Harrison said. "My husband and I are both very proud."

In a jittery town, Mike Harrison, married with a child due in February, said he is not worried.

"I'm confident of the leadership we have in the country," he said. "I don't have a problem sleeping at night."

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