Suspicious powder shuts down senator's office

A suspicious substance was found this week in the Office of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., forcing the brief closing of several adjacent offices, including those of Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Lee’s staff was told to stay put after the alarm sounded in the Hart Office Building, according to Police gave the all clear after investigating the substance, thought to be a white powder, for approximately 45 minutes.

A spokesman for the Capitol Police, Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, confirmed that nothing hazardous was found.

As a result of the 2001 anthrax scares, all mail sent to congressional offices is exposed to radiation in order to counter any harmful substances, according to

Lee's spokesman Brian Phillips said the freshman senator was not in the office when police announced the lockdown. Lee said he was attending a meeting two buildings away when he hear the news around 8:45 a.m. that his office would be closed.

"My assistant had told me, ‘You can't come back to your office after your current meeting ends because we're in lockdown. We're not allowed to leave and you're not allowed to come in,'" Lee said, reports.

White powder threats have temporarily closed many offices in the Washington, D.C., area, but they have typically not proven to be harmful.