Senate approves renaming airport for Reagan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate voted Wednesday, two days before Ronald Reagan’s 87th birthday, to rename Washington National Airport in his honor.
The 76-22 vote came after days of talks tinged with partisan politics.
Republicans had been trying since last week to rush the bill to the Senate floor for passage prior to the former president’s birthday. They were blocked by Democrats stung by Republican refusal to consider naming the Justice Department building after Robert F. Kennedy, the former senator and attorney general and brother of President Kennedy.
To break the impasse, Republican leaders agreed to debate Democratic suggestions for changes to the Reagan bill, including one that would have dropped J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI Building in downtown Washington. The Senate shelved that proposal Wednesday.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said President Clinton would sign the bill, but the spokesman noted that, in exchange for Democratic agreement on the Senate vote, GOP leaders promised a vote on an IRS reform and restructuring bill.
“The president is well aware of some of the arguments in and around this bill, but I think for him it came down to a question of honoring Ronald Reagan,” McCurry said.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who sponsored the Hoover measure, said he has wanted to strip Hoover’s name from FBI headquarters for several years. Hoover ran roughshod over the Constitution by investigating and harassing high-ranking government officials, civil rights leaders and entertainers, Reid said.
The Senate voted, 62-36, to take no action after Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Hoover made mistakes but deserves credit for making the FBI what it is today.
“There are also many things that have been accomplished during the tenure of J. Edgar Hoover. And I have to say there are a raft of FBI agents that would be very offended by this, and I don’t think we should do this,” Hatch said.
The House was scheduled to consider its own bill to put Reagan’s name on the airport Wednesday afternoon.
Republicans said renaming the airport would be a fitting tribute to Reagan, living out his final years in a struggle against Alzheimer’s disease.