Arlington, VA

In a victory for Virginia’s congressional delegation, the Navy has announced that the USS Arlington will be commissioned at the Norfolk Naval Base.

Following word last week that ports outside of Virginia were being considered for the commissioning, the delegation wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, saying that it would a “mistake” to commission the Arlington anywhere other than Commonwealth.

“We applaud the Navy’s responsiveness and decision to commission the USS Arlington in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the delegation said in a statement today. “Commissioning the ship in Virginia is the appropriate way to honor the bravery and sacrifice of the thousands of local police officers, fire fighters, Pentagon employees, emergency first responders and all who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.”

The delegation includes Rep. Jim Moran, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Mark Warner and other Virginia lawmakers.

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The lack of a congressional mandate and a clear diplomatic policy has Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) questioning U.S. military involvement in Libya.

On MSNBC yesterday, Webb told host Andrea Mitchell that President Obama should have consulted congress before ordering airstrikes on Libyan forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gadhafi.

“We have not had a debate,” he said. “I know that there was some justification put into place because of concern for civilian casualties” at the hands of Gadhafi forces, “but this isn’t the way that our system is supposed to work.”

Webb argued that the U.S. does not really know much about the Libyan rebels that are benefiting from the airstrikes.

“We know we don’t like the Gadhafi regime, but we do not have a clear picture of who the opposition movement really is,” he said.

Although Britain and France have joined the U.S. in conducting the airstrikes, Webb questioned the true international support for the strikes. Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing the action, he said, adding that the Arab League has been tepid in its endorsement. Meanhwhile, Webb noted that Britain and France has a direct economic interest in Libyan oil, while the U.S. has less to gain.

“I really don’t believe that we have an obligation to get involved in every single [conflict] in that part of the world,” he said. Webb is a member of the Armed Services Committee, a former Secretary of the Navy and a Vietnam veteran.

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Morning Notes

Bishop O’Connell Lights Decision May Be Delayed — County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended the County Board put off any discussion of Bishop O’Connell High School’s request to add lights to its athletic fields until June, to give staff more time to analyze the controversial issue. [Sun Gazette]

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner in Shirlington — Sen. Jim Webb was spotted having dinner at T.H.A.I. Shirlington Friday night, according to a blog. [Shirlington Village Blogspot]

Energy Plan Approved By Task Force — A plan to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions in Arlington won the final approval of the task force that drafted it Friday morning. Arlington’s Community Energy Plan will likely be approved by the County Board in May. [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

I-395 HOT Lanes Could Be Reconsidered — Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton tells Potomac Local that should High Occupancy Toll lanes on the Beltway and I-95 prove successful, HOT lanes could still be added to I-395. On Tuesday Arlington County announced they were withdrawing their lawsuit against a planned HOT lanes project on I-395, following an announcement from VDOT that they would no longer pursue HOT lanes between Arlington and Alexandria. [Potomac Local]

DCA Baggage Handler Gets Trapped in Cargo Hold — A baggage handler at Reagan National Airport became trapped in the cargo hold of a plane after another baggage handler closed the cargo door without realizing someone was still inside. The trapped employee had to yell and pound on the ceiling to get the attention of the plane’s co-pilot. [TBD]

Webb Won’t Run for Reelection — Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said yesterday that he will not run for reelection in 2012. The senator’s announcement opens up the race to Democratic hopefuls and should improve the chances of former Senator George Allen, who will likely win the Republican nomination. Former governor Tim Kaine is now expected to seek the Democratic nomination. Del. David Englin, who represents part of Arlington, is also said to be considering a run. [Politico]

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

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Speaking to the Arlington Chamber of Commerce this afternoon, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) expressed strong support for the tax cut deal between President Obama and congressional Republicans, calling the compromise “an act of leadership.”

The keynote speaker at the Chamber’s 86th Annual Meeting, Webb said he’s encouraged by the president’s willingness to break with the Democratic base.

“What the president has done here is something I’ve been waiting for him to do for a long time, and that is to get out of the base of the party and move into where we need to be as Americans to solve the problems that we have,” Webb said. “There are things in here for everybody not to like, but that’s just what happens when you get into this business.”

Obama’s tax proposal calls for a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for all income brackets, a 13-month extension of long-term unemployment benefits, tax breaks for business investments, a weakening of the estate tax, and a 2 percent payroll tax production. Since the compromise was announced, the president has had to fight off criticism from members of his own party, who say the deal is costly and a boon for the rich.

“It’s not a totally popular position inside our caucus at the moment, but I think we really do need to get this done for the good of the country,” Webb said. “It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it’s an issue of how we get our economy going.”

Webb said lower taxes and continued unemployment benefits have the potential to greatly benefit the economy. In explaining why, he adopted the economic rationale cited by many Republicans.

“What all this has the potential of doing, in my view, is to stimulate our economy in a way that the TARP did not, and these other programs did not, because it’s going to put money directly in the hands of people who will spend it,” he said. “Study after study has shown that when you put money into unemployment benefits, it’s one of the fastest ways to recirculate money in your economy, because people aren’t going to hang on to it, they’re going to go out and spend it.”

Webb said simply allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire in January would be a mistake.

“People who don’t like this, I’m not sure they’re going to like what happens if they don’t pass it,” he said.

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Morning Notes

Torrez Sentencing Today — The sentencing of former Marine and convicted rapist Jorge Torrez will be held in Arlington County Circuit Court today.

Chairman Zimmerman — Chris Zimmerman will likely serve as county board chairman in 2011, taking the reins from Jay Fisette. An official announcement is expected to be made on Tuesday. More from the Sun Gazette.

Webb Headlines Annual Chamber Meeting — The 86th Annual Meeting of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce will be held at the Sheraton National Hotel on Columbia Pike today. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is the keynote speaker for the luncheon event. Others expected to attend include state delegates Adam Ebbin and David Englin, County Manager Barbara Donnellan, and numerous county elected officials.

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Fortuitously timed between yesterday morning’s downpours, local officials and Sen. Jim Webb gathered under a tent near North Lynn Street to break ground on a new entrance to the Rosslyn Metro station.

The entrance will be located across from the existing Metro entrance, between the planned CentralPlace office and residential towers and near the future 1812 North Moore Street tower. It will feature three high-speed elevators and an emergency staircase, but no escalators.

The $32.6 million project also includes the construction of new fare collection and vending equipment, as well as a new kiosk and a new entrance mezzanine.

“I think it’s a good investment,” said Webb, who pointed to heavy traffic on the nearby Roosevelt Bridge as evidence of the importance of the Metrorail system.

The entrance will be able to serve up to 2,000 riders per hour, officials say. Local leaders hope it will help keep pace with the station’s soaring ridership, which has increased 23 percent in the past decade and is expected to increase even more with all the new development in the area.

“The project that’s being initiated today will increase the capacity of the station,” said county board member Chris Zimmerman, who is also sits on Metro’s board of directors. “It will be easier for people to get in and out of Rosslyn station… It’s going to make Rosslyn a more vital place, and help us achieve the vision for Rosslyn that everyone here has been working on for quite a long time.”

The project is being funded by a combination of federal, state and county dollars.

Construction is expected to wrap up in the spring of 2013. In the meantime, construction has necessitated some traffic changes in the Rosslyn area.

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