May 2, 2024 - Politics

Scoop: D.C. wants RFK bill attached to must-pass congressional bill

A view of RFK Stadium with the Capitol dome and Monument in the background

Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. wants the Senate to attach the RFK Stadium bill to a must-pass legislative package moving through Congress, according to a source involved in the negotiations.

Why it matters: RFK just gained approval to be demolished, but the long-awaited bill that would kickstart the 190-acre federal property's redevelopment — and potentially bring a new Commanders football stadium — has been stuck in a Senate committee.

Behind the scenes: The Bowser administration asked Senate Democrats to tack the RFK bill to the FAA reauthorization measure, according to the source, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

  • The FAA reauthorization — an otherwise mundane bill to keep U.S. aviation running safely — is one of the last opportunities to get legislation approved before the November election. A May 10 deadline looms to pass both chambers.
  • Senators are lining up to push for their amendments, as Axios' Stef Kight reports. Some are relevant to the aviation bill at hand, and others not at all.

Yes, but: Senate leadership is divided over whether to allow unrelated attachments. Some would be popular, but it could open a can of worms and risk approval in the House, leadership aides tell Axios.

Nonetheless, D.C. is hoping — "praying" — that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who holds the RFK bill in his committee, will make a late move, the source expressed.

  • Staff for Manchin and Schumer did not respond to requests for comment.

Between the lines: D.C. is hamstrung by its lack of statehood, with no senators to push for the RFK bill. It has sat in Manchin's committee since being approved by the House in late February.

  • Meanwhile, senators from Maryland and Virginia have every incentive to oppose the bill; there's a regional competition to attract the next Commanders stadium, a big opportunity to create jobs and economic development.

The latest: The RFK Stadium structure itself — empty for the last five years — gained environmental approval from the National Park Service on Thursday to be demolished.

The bottom line: The city may just need to wait for Manchin to move it — which will take longer.

Reporter Stephen Neukam contributed to this story.

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