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White House press briefing room evacuated

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WASHINGTON — A bomb threat was made Tuesday afternoon “concerning the White House Briefing Room,” the Secret Service said in a statement.

The threat caused that room as well as part of the White House lawn to be evacuated, though both were reopened approximately a half hour later.

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White House journalists have been moved into a tunnel that leads from the White House to another building. Secret Service has covered all robotic cameras operated by CNN on the North Lawn and in the briefing room.

Officials told all reporters to leave immediately.

The evacuation happened just hours after a Senate hearing discussing the Transportation Security Administration was evacuated from the Dirksen Senate building early Tuesday afternoon after Capital Police received a bomb threat.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Senate building had been given the all clear, shortly after USCP cleared multiple floors in the Dirksen Senate Office Building while they investigated the potential threat.

The TSA hearing was called by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in response to a report that was leaked revealing significant flaws in the agency’s terror-vetting process. According to a CNN report, cracks in the system included TSA failing to identify 73 active workers who had links to terrorism.

Witnesses at the hearing on Tuesday included: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth, Director of Transportation Security and Coast Guard Issues Jennifer Grover, Federal Air Marshal Robert J. MacLean and Assistant Federal Security Director for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Rebecca Roering.

All the witnesses voiced concern over both systematic errors and agency moral. Other issues TSA was criticized for included the increased use of pre-check without the proper vetting, the emphasis from certain executives for efficiency over security, and the large vulnerabilities that can occur over simple human error mistakes.

“The DHS is handing out TSA pre-check like Halloween candy,” Roering said.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, noted during the hearing the extensive interaction the agency has with the American public stating the 46,000 TSA officers screen nearly 2 million passengers each day.

“The culture that exists and TSA is one of fear and distrust,” Roering said.

The committee is responsible for all oversight regarding homeland security beginning in 2003 according to the committee’s website.