Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Gainer stepping down

Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer escorts Barack Obama on the Hill last year, (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer escorts the president on the Hill last year. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Terry Gainer, the longest-serving Senate sergeant-at-arms since World War II, is stepping down this spring after more than seven years on the job.

He’s also, according to an announcement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the first in that job to have headed the Capitol Police before then. Gainer, who has had a long career in law enforcement, had been second-in-command of the D.C. police before moving to Capitol Hill. He previously worked as a homicide detective in Chicago and led the Illinois State Police in the 1990s.

While the title would indicate his job is focused on law enforcement, the Senate sergeant-at-arms is effectively the chief operating officer of the Senate, with about 850  staff members who run Senate telecommunications, information technology, postal services, the TV and radio recording studio and the media galleries. The Senate pages and doorkeepers are also Gainer’s responsibility.

The formal job title is Sergeant At Arms and Doorkeeper. The doorkeeper function was established in the first Congress in 1789. The idea was not to keep people from coming in (checking for photo IDs and such) but to keep lawmakers from leaving so there would be a majority around to conduct business.

Speaking of business, Gainer, asked about his future plans, said,  “There are private sector opportunities where I intend to leverage my experiences and contribute to other organizations, and perhaps make some rubles.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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