5:17 EST—Authorities continue to search for survivors of this morning’s catastrophe in Washington, D.C. Hope is still held that people will be pulled alive from the broken remains of the U.S. Capitol Building, which inexplicably sank into the soft ground after a series of tremors just after 9:15 in the morning.
While rescue workers plumb the depths of the gaping hole for survivors and for clues to the cause of the disaster, speculation grows that the foundation of the Capitol, completed in 1800, finally gave way under the sheer, awesome weight of lobbyist money.
Because the structure was never intended to support the massive amounts of cash currently funneled through its halls on a daily basis, workers from the General Services Administration have twice reinforced the walls and foundation, in 1983 and 2006. Dr.Pamela Soren, Professor of Geology at Georgetown University, speculates that the native soils beneath the building, having lost density due to recent heavy rains, gave way completely, enabling the building and its contents to sink to bedrock some 83 feet below ground level.
Congress was in session at the time of the disaster. According to a schedule released on Congress.gov, debate had begun on a bill to introduce an exception in the Congressional ethics guidelines to classify all donated items crafted from 18 to 24-carat gold as ‘merely ornamental’ and exempt from Senate and House gift reporting.