Congress Votes To Rename National Airport After Reagan
A tribute to the former president stirs a partisan debate
By Ann Curley/CNN
WASHINGTON (Feb. 4) -- Following the Senate's example, the House passed a measure Wednesday afternoon to rename Washington's National Airport after former President Ronald Reagan. The final vote was 240-186.
Representatives from Virginia, where the airport is located, argued
against Congress intruding on local affairs and choosing a name that local residents might oppose.
Air traffic controllers, recalling Reagan's firing of 11,000 controllers during a 1981 strike, also opposed the new name.
But Republican supporters won in the end, hoping that the bill can be signed into law before Friday, which marks Reagan's 87th birthday.
Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said President Bill Clinton would sign the bill if it was passed by Congress.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) called Reagan one of the most loved Americans.
The Senate approved the name change on a 76-22 vote.
Many lawmakers called renaming the airport a "fitting tribute" to Reagan, who is now struggling with Alzheimer's's disease.
Democrat Rep. Jim. Oberstar (D-Minn.) called it "unprecedented," though, to remove one president's name from a building in order to rename it after a successor.
Other Democrats called the proposal a strictly partisan move by Republicans, pointing out that Reagan has a downtown Washington, D.C., trade center named after him.