- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2001

Congressional Democrats have voted to force Metro transit officials to formally recognize the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in big bold letters, but since no federal money was earmarked to pay for new signs, they have tossed the job of paying for the makeover into the laps of local Republicans, who oppose unfundated mandates.
A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, said "funding has to be found, so he will see what he can do."
Rep. Constance A. Morella of Maryland also would support efforts to find federal money to pay for the renaming, said her spokesman, Rob White.
The House on Tuesday approved a $59 billion transportation bill that includes an amendment requiring Metro to rename its Blue and Yellow Line subway stop that overlooks the airport once known National Airport. But the measure does not provide the $405,000 Metro officials say it would cost to change signs and subway maps along its stops.
"It's an unfunded mandate," Davis spokesman Jack Hession said of the amendment offered by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Kansas Republican.
"Congress should not be requiring the name change if it is not ready to supply the money to deal with it," Mr. White said. "The job of Metro is to run trains and run buses and keep people moving, and we can't take away resources from its main tasks."
Sen. George F. Allen, Virginia Republican, said through a spokesman: "Congress should not be in the business of micromanaging Metro."
Allen spokesman Matt Raymond said that while Mr. Allen believes Metro should have voluntarily renamed the subway stop, its decision is still a local matter. "His bottom line is that as objectionable as this is, and as easily as it could be changed, it is not Congress' place to dictate local decisions," Mr. Raymond said. "As a matter of principle, he does not support unfunded mandates."
Congress approved renaming the airport in 1997, and the airport's name was officially changed a year later on Feb. 6 — Mr. Reagan's 87th birthday.
The Washington Times reported in October that Metro had no intention of renaming the airport station. Metro has changed the names of seven subway stations — at a cost of $713,000 paid by the localities requesting them — since the law renaming the airport took effect.
In March, Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, wrote to Metro asking that new signs be installed. But despite the requests of 23 other House GOP members, including House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, Metro's board declined to take up the matter at an April meeting.
Mr. Raymond said it is premature to say which path Mr. Allen will take — adding money to the amendment or trying to push the amendment off the table when the conference committee meets to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the transportation bill.
The Tiahrt amendment would require Metro to rename the signs at its airport station and 29 other stations on the Blue and Yellow lines, change maps on its 764 rail cars and redo the signs on platform pillars at 83 stations along the 103-mile system.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, has said she would make efforts to drop the amendment when it reaches the conference committee, of which she is a member. "I think [the Senate is] going to leave the Metro stops to local government," Miss Mikulski said. "But if an amendment is offered, I will fight it." Senate sources said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat, would fight by her side.
No companion amendments have yet been offered in the Senate.
Mr. Tiahrt, who is a House conferee, has said he will press for his amendment to stay in the spending bill.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide