Alexandria, VA

A local addition to the National Defense Authorization Act — a $740 billion bill approved through the House and Senate and headed to the White House — would require the Pentagon to establish a helicopter noise abatement group for the region.

Helicopter noise has long been a local complaint in Alexandria, perhaps second only in overhead noise controversy to sound coming from National Airport.

The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Don Beyer (D) would also require the Pentagon to establish a noise inquiry website based on the DCA’s complaint website.

“Since I took office, complaints about aircraft noise have been one of the most consistent sources of calls to my office,” Beyer said in an email. “We get calls about airplanes on approach and departure to and from DCA, and increasingly about military helicopters across the region, many of which fly in and out of Fort Belvoir. I had a town hall on the issue a few years ago in Fairlington, which has been particularly affected, and it was clear that people wanted ways to track and report noise complaints, and to have a forum for ongoing discussion about ways to mitigate that noise which would include input from the local community.”

While the bill has been approved by both chambers, a threatened veto over changing the names of bases named after Confederate leaders could still keep the helicopter noise solution from moving forward.

“With its adoption in the House we are now on track to get this enacted,” Beyer said. “Given the work that MWAA has already done in some of these areas it just makes sense for the Pentagon to look at what they have done, take what worked well, and make changes in areas that they could improve.”

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

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Morning Notes

New Coworking Space Opening This Spring — “A new co-working space is opening in a historic property that once housed a grocery delivery company… The Loop, a unique, dog-friendly co-working space that will help Alexandria residents ‘Work Better, Be Better, Do Better’ will open in April. The Loop is under construction on North Payne Street in the former Chec Soda & Refrigeration Co. complex.” [Alexandria Living]

Presidents Day Closures in Alexandria — “All City of Alexandria government offices will be closed on Monday, February 17, in observance of George Washington Day.” [City of Alexandria]

AWLA Delivering Pets on V-Day — “Forget roses and chocolates, or even flowers. The new gift is Fido or Felix. This Valentine’s Day, there will be volunteers from the Animal Welfare League in Alexandria delivering rescue pets to their forever homes from noon to 7 p.m.” [Zebra]

Vietnam Vet Speaking at GW Parade Event — “Capt. Eugene ‘Red’ McDaniel (ret.), a Vietnam veteran considered one of the most brutalized prisoners of war during six years of captivity, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association Breakfast Feb. 17 at the Alexandria Westin Hotel.” [Gazette Packet]

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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was careful with his words at T.C. Williams High School on Friday.

The lawmaker spoke for more than an hour to JROTC students about his war powers resolution, which would limit the president’s ability to strike against foreign countries without congressional approval. Kaine said that the Trump administration’s Jan. 3 assassination of Qasem Soleimani outside Baghdad International Airport was based on U.S. intelligence that fell “far short of what I view as an imminent threat.”

“It’s not just the striking Soleimani, though. It’s doing it in Iraq, a nation that’s an ally when they have objected to it and doing it without informing Congress or any congressional authorization. It’s the combined weight of all of those together that has made this so controversial,” Kaine said, adding that he has taken out all reference to President Trump in his resolution. “I’m trying to, you know, maximize the support [for the bill.]”

Kaine introduced a war powers resolution last week in the Senate, which would limit the president’s ability to conduct such strikes against foreign countries. The resolution, he said, will likely go to the Senate floor after the upcoming Democratic Presidential debate on Tuesday, Jan. 14., when three of the candidates will be able to vote in its favor. A similar bill just passed the House of Representatives.

Cadet Command Sergeant Major Andy Ramirez is planning on joining the U.S. Military after graduating from T.C. this year, and said that meeting Kaine was the opportunity of a lifetime. He also called the recent U.S. action in Iraq “very concerning.”

“Having the Senator, who is so well informed of what’s going on around the world, to be conducting a whole conversation with high school students, it’s just a great opportunity to be a part of it. For us to be able for us to be able to have a voice, talk to the Senator about things that are happening, like in Iran,” Ramirez said. “Like, it affects everybody, not just people in the military, but their family and friends.”

Kaine believes he has solid support from Senate Democrats, and from at least two Republican Senators, Rand Paul (KY) and Mike Lee (UT).

“We have a good relationship with Iraq that have been purchased with an awful lot of American blood and treasure,” he said. “Now Iraq is asking us to leave. If we leave Iraq, my prediction is that Iran is going to get more powerful there.”

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