- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

President Bush will leave it to Congress to settle the debate over renaming the Metro subway station at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, his chief spokesman said yesterday.
"They have the purview over this at this time," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "And I do not imagine this will be an issue which pits people against each other."
Answering a reporters question about the name-change flap during a White House press briefing, Mr. Fleischer said he thinks "it would be unfortunate if people were pitted against each other at a time when people should be honoring Ronald Reagan."
Several House Republicans have sought to change the stations name, currently National Airport, to reflect the airports official name since The Washington Times first reported in October that Metro had no intention of putting the official name on any signs at the station.
"I believe this is one of those issues that youre going to see will be addressed and will be worked out by the Congress," Mr. Fleischer said.
Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is expected to file legislation this week that would force Metro to change all signs, maps and literature to reflect the official name of the airport Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, last month threatened to tie up Metro funding if Mr. Reagans name were not added to every Metro sign at every station, as well as on maps and literature.
Last week, the Metro Board of Directors effectively declined to consider requests by Mr. Barr and 23 other House members for the board to honor Mr. Reagan when the board declined to even discuss the issue at its monthly meeting, much less take up a vote.
Metro officials have said making a systemwide change would cost about $400,000 and doing it only at the airport stop would cost about $150,000. According to sources, Mr. Young's bill would link funding for Metro expansion projects, like buying new rail cars and buses, to the station-name revision.
Last fall, Mr. Young tinkered with the idea of filing a bill that would have required Metro to rename the station and provided $150,000 for it, but some money is expected to pay for the change this time around.
Congress passed a law in 1997 mandating the airport change its name, with it going into effect the following year on Feb. 6 Mr. Reagans birthday. Metro was created by Congress in 1967 as a regional quasigovernmental organization and has a say in policy matters.
"Obviously, the president thinks very, very highly of Ronald Reagan," Mr. Fleischer said.
Mr. Bushs father, George Bush, was Mr. Reagans vice president for eight years and president from 1989 to 1993. Some historians say the younger Bush would not be in the White House today had Mr. Reagan not picked the elder Bush as his running mate in 1980 since the vice presidency was the elder Bushs stepping stone to the Oval Office.

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