W A S H I N G T O N, April 27, 2001 -- Congress added Ronald Reagan's name to Washington's National Airport three years ago, but the name was never added to the airport's subway stop.
Now a group of Republican congressmen is demanding that the station, which is under local control, adopt the former president's name.
"It's to avoid confusion and to be consistent," said Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga.
But local Metro officials — who are mostly Democrats — have refused to make the change, saying it would cost $100,000 to change the signs at the airport station, and another $300,000 to change every single sign and map in the system.
Now the Republicans are threatening to block federal funding for a subway expansion project.
"Congress could in their position act like an 800-pound gorilla and cause us harm financially," said Decatur Trotter, chairman of the Metro board, which last week declined to take action on Barr's request. Trotter and four of the board's six voting members are Democrats; one is a Republican.
Interfering in Local Affairs?
Chris Zimmerman, one of the Democrats on the Metro board, framed the issue in terms of federal intervention in local affairs — something Republicans normally oppose.
"What really concerns me is if we start responding to this kind of thing from any member of Congress from anywhere in the country who wants to use the Metro system as a political plaything," Zimmerman said.
Visiting tourists are sometimes confused.
"In my city map it's still National, and at the Metro, but in my flight tickets, it's Ronald Reagan Airport," said one German woman.
But locals say it's not that complicated, since the airport is the only one on the subway system.