Waiting for the Popemobile

Pope Francis rides through the streets of Asuncion, Paraguay. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

News that Pope Francis will roll through Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York in a poped-out Jeep Wrangler has left many itching to get a glimpse of the vehicle.  

But given monumental security concerns and, according to those closely watching the issue, the Pope’s desire to keep the focus on the people, more info isn’t likely to come until he potentially rolls out of the White House in the latest iteration of the Popemobile. “In every country that he goes to, how he moves around and so forth has become a matter of speculation,” said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, who said with a chuckle he’s no expert on the pope’s vehicle of choice.  

Virginia Man Cries Foul Over Capitol Police Actions

Shimeles thinks Capitol Police overreacted. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The man at the center of a Memorial Day bomb scare near the National Mall wants Capitol Police to help pay for the pressure cooker and propane tank they detonated , plus for damage to his automobile.  

"Honestly, it's not only my equipment. They destroyed my car as well," said Israel Sean Shimeles, the Arlington, Va., man who was arrested on May 24. Traffic charges against Shimeles were later dropped, but he has yet to hear from Capitol Police in response to his damage claims. Acting out of an abundance of caution during the annual Memorial Day concert that draws thousands to the Capitol grounds, officers smashed their way into a “suspicious” car parked on the west side of Third Street Northwest, removed a pressure cooker and a propane tank — property Shimeles used for his food truck business — and then blew them up.  

AOC Details July 4th Concert Security Protocols

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As lawmakers rush to check items off their legislative to-do list before the Independence Day recess, Capitol administrators are busy preparing for the annual July 4th Concert on the West Lawn.  

"A Capitol Fourth," the live concert broadcast on PBS, is set for Saturday, July 4, at 8 p.m., and the Architect of the Capitol announced Monday that the concert will result in a familiar series of street closures. From midnight on July 2 until 4 a.m. July 5,  streets surrounding the West Front will be closed. Closures include First Street between Independence Ave. SW and Constitution Ave. NW; Pennsylvania Ave. NW between First Street NW and Third Street NW; and Maryland Avenue between First Street SW and Third Street SW.  

Norton: Washington Monument Elevator Is Safe

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After meeting with National Park Service officials, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is certain the Washington Monument elevator is safe to ride, following a string of electrical issues that led to recent closures.  

“After hearing today’s briefing I would not hesitate to bring my 3-year-old grandson and his brother, who is two months old, to ride the elevator to the top of the monument,” Norton said in a statement. “I hope that the thousands of visitors who come to the nation’s capital during this busy tourist season are also reassured.” In late May, the Washington Monument closed for several days after a power outage shut down the elevator, and also caused a mechanical alignment issue with the elevator. Norton demanded a meeting with NPS officials to discuss the closures as well as possible long-term solutions.  

It's Time for the Circulator — on the National Mall

Officials launch a new D.C. Circulator route Friday. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

As the sun beat down on the National Mall late Friday morning, District of Columbia officials cut a ribbon in front of a bus parked by the Lincoln Memorial, launching the sixth DC Circulator bus route.  

DC Circulator has operated bus routes around the District for the past 10 years, providing $1 rides to residents and visitors. The new route along the National Mall, which originates at Union Station, begins Sunday with 15 stops at the various monuments and museums, with a final stop at the West Front of the Capitol. "The Mall is one of my priorities," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C. "This Circulator means that maybe we'll get rid of some of those gas-guzzling tour buses that are ruining the view and ruining our pollution."  

Norton to Meet with NPS After Washington Monument Closed

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Recent elevator issues that caused the closure of the Washington Monument have drawn the ire of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.  

"Elevator outages during the peak tourist season render the Washington Monument off limits," Norton said in a statement Tuesday. "[The National Park Service] has told me that the problem is suspected to have been caused by numerous shutdowns of the elevator due to power outages, but this newly refurbished elevator began to malfunction almost as soon as the Monument reopened a year ago." On Monday, NPS announced the Washington Monument will be closed "at least" until Thursday "to repair a mechanical alignment issue with the elevator." NPS noted that the alignment issue could be a symptom of the multiple elevator shutdowns last week.  

Lawmakers Lament Deteriorating Arlington Memorial Bridge

From left, Beyer, Jarvis and Jewell called for more federal transportation funding. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Regional lawmakers are sounding the alarm about the condition of the Arlington Memorial Bridge and are pushing for Congress to provide funds to repair the structure.  

“Two lanes closed on one of the most important entrances to our nation’s capital. We already have the worst traffic congestion in the country, and now this," Rep. Don Beyer Jr., D-Va., said at a Monday press conference on the Virginia side of the bridge. "This is not just the symbol, but the reality of failed leadership.” The National Park Service announced on May 28 that both of the curbside lanes in the drawbridge section of the bridge will be closed until emergency repairs are finished. The NPS and the Federal Highway Administration also instituted an indefinite 10-ton load limit across the entire bridge, meaning Metro buses will not be able to traverse the bridge connecting the District of Columbia to Northern Virginia.  

National Mall Giving Away Tickets to Landmark Music Festival

The festival is a fundraiser for necessary National Mall upgrades, due to wear and tear from millions of visitor a year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As part of an effort to publicize the National Mall's first-ever music festival and make it accessible, the Trust for the National Mall is giving away 1,000 tickets this week to the Landmark Music Festival.  

Potential festival goers can enter the lottery to win a pair of 2-day passes to the festival, which will take place Sept. 26-27 at West Potomac Park, south of the National Mall. The Trust for the National Mall will be giving away 500 pairs of passes; the deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Wednesday. “Landmark Music Festival is an incredible opportunity for us to build awareness and support for our work to restore the National Mall, and we want everyone to have a chance to join us,” Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall, said in a statement announcing the lottery. “The National Mall belongs to all of us, and we all have a stake in ensuring its future.”  

WWII Air Parade to Fly Over National Mall (Updated)

The flyover begins with a World War II Memorial ceremony featuring veterans and dignitaries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:01 a.m. | Look toward the National Mall around noon Friday to catch some unusual activity in the restricted airspace above the National Mall. No, the Capital region is not expecting another gyrocopter. This time it's an air parade, featuring World War II bombers and fighters, such as Lockheed's historic P-38 Lightening. At approximately 12:10 p.m., the first formation flies over the Lincoln Memorial, at an altitude of 1,000 feet. The "Arsenal of Democracy World War II Victory Capitol Flyover," planned to honor military servicemen and civilians on the home front who produced the aircraft on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, concludes around 12:35 p.m. with a missing man formation.  

Formations designed to represent the war’s major battles, from Pearl Harbor through the final air assault on Japan, will take off every 90 seconds. Profiles of the planes, including the FG-1D Corsair, the P-51 Mustang, and “spotter cards,” to keep track of the show are available via the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine. The Federal Aviation Administration granted the necessary approvals for the flyover, noting “the educational and historic value of this single signature event in commemorating this significant milestone in history,” according to a release from organizers. The flyover ends about an hour before Florida mailman Doug Hughes was scheduled to go on trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, for charges related to a breach of the same airspace. Hughes' hearing has been delayed to May 21.