Possible Ricin Discovery Cancels Postal Hearing

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has canceled a hearing on postal reform today because of the discovery of a substance thought to be the poison ricin at the building where the hearing was to be held.

The hearing will be rescheduled, though no date has been set, a committee spokeswoman said. Another hearing on postal reform, currently set for 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, will take place on schedule unless the building remains closed.

Committee members were set to discuss postal labor issues at the two hearings. Scheduled to testify were Dan Blair, deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management, and postal labor leaders, including American Postal Workers Union president William Burrus and National Association of Letter Carriers president William Young.

Staffers discovered a suspicious powder that field tests indicated was ricin, a poison derived from the castor bean for which there is no known antidote, in pieces of mail at the Dirksen building in the office of Sen. Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader, last night, according to The Associated Press. The Dirksen building, where the committee’s meeting was to be held, along with two other Senate office buildings were shut down.

The Capitol remains open and the Senate is in session today, according to the AP.

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