Missouri’s two U.S. senators marked the 131st birthday of Harry S. Truman on Friday with a bill to rename Washington’s Union Station after the former president.
This is the second year in a row that Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, have teamed up to push for changing the name of the 108-year-old train station near the U.S. Capitol Building to honor Truman, the 33rd president and a Missouri native.
Last year, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City introduced an identical piece of legislation in the House, but neither bill ever got a vote. So on Truman’s birthday, the lawmakers tried again.
“Naming the train station in our nation’s capital after President Truman is a fitting tribute to his accomplishments and his character,” Blunt said in a statement.
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In another statement, McCaskill said: “It’d be a real tribute to have the train station just a short walk from the Capitol, that played such an important role in his presidency, bear the name of this great leader.”
She said Truman “deserves a memorial in Washington that’s fitting of his great legacy and vast accomplishments.”
The senators point out that Union Station was home to the railcar known as U.S. Car No. 1, which Truman used during his presidency and during his famous “whistle stop campaign” tour.
The renaming campaign isn’t necessarily catching fire among residents of Washington, however. Eleanor Holmes Norton — who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, albeit without a vote — said last year that she was supportive of the proposed name change. But the then D.C. mayor, Vincent Gray, said the residents and government of the city should be consulted.
“This is another example of national politicians treating our city as a personal Erector Set they can play with as they like,” complained Washington Post columnist John Kelly.
Kelly also noted that legislation that created the Truman Scholars program in 1975 as a “living memorial” explicitly forbade other memorials in Truman’s honor.
John LaBombard, a spokesman for McCaskill’s office, responded that Congress has passed two other laws naming federal sites and facilities after Truman since that 1975 law was enacted: the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site in 1983 and the State Department headquarters in 2000. Neither of those sites is considered a memorial, LaBombard said, and neither would Union Station.