ROD GRAMS - MINNESOTA
May 17, 1996
REOPENING PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE TO THE PEOPLE
UNITED STATES SENATE
WASHINGTON. DC 20510
BANKING, HOUSING, AND URBAN AFFAIRS
ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
2013 SECOND AVENUE NORTH
ANOKA. MN 55305
News conference statement by U.S. Senator Rod Grams
Good morning, and thank you for making the trip over here today.
I am Senator Rod Grams.
I am pleased to be standing alongside representatives of the
District's civic, business, and historical organizations. The
very fact that so many wanted to be here today is a powerful
reminder of the importance of this historic street to the
Washington community. Our urgent message is that it is time to
reopen Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Reporters have been asking me why a Senator from Minnesota would
have such a great interest in Pennsylvania Avenue. It is because
many of my Minnesota constituents are among the 15 million
Americans who visit here every year, and what they see when they
arrive at the home of their President is disappointing and
Look around. There are barricades to the left of us, barricades
to the right of us, and yet directly in the middle sits what is
supposed to be one of this nation's most enduring symbols of
freedom. Surrounded by concrete, and ringed by armed guards,
dogs, and patrol vehicles, a roadway that once resonated with
freedom now reeks of fear.
The parking lot of the local K-Mart has more charm these days
than this stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue.
While no one questions the need for providing our President the
most thorough and appropriate security measures available, it was
a knee-jerk reaction to fear that closed this road to traffic for
the first time in its 196-year history.
The White House said this week that access has actually improved
since the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue. But anyone here will
tell you that closing the avenue, one of the District's major
arteries, has had a devastating impact. It has tied up traffic,
shut out tourists, scared away businesses, and inconvenienced
residents. And it was imposed unilaterally, without any
consultation with the District or the people who rely upon this
I have introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for the
reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue, and I am pleased to be joined
in this effort by Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Senator Chuck
Robb of Virginia. Along with the supporters here today, we have
come together -- without regard to party affiliation and without
any political agenda to ask the President to reverse a decision
that has replaced openness with apprehension. In the capital city
of a nation built "of the people, by the people, and for the
people," there can be no room for fear, roadblocks, or.
Federal officials say they would like to turn this segment of
Pennsylvania Avenue into a ceremonial park, but I would like to
suggest that this city does not need another ceremonial park, at
least not in front of the White House. America has a great many
parks, but only one "Main Street."
It is time to reclaim it. It is time to reopen Pennsylvania
Avenue, for our visitors, our business community, our commuters,
our residents -- for every American who celebrates freedom and
believes that giving in to fear is not an acceptable response in
May 17, 1996
Pennsylvania Ave. Closure || Peace Park