A decision by the city council to extend the hours Washington bars and restaurants can serve alcohol for the week around Inauguration Day on Jan. 20 has stumbled into a wall of opposition from church leaders, police and top U.S. lawmakers.
In a letter to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Council Chairman Vincent Gray, U.S. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin asked them to reconsider a decision to allow bars and restaurants to stay open all night and serve alcohol until 5 a.m. during the period Jan. 17-21.
Durbin, who served as co-chairman of President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, said he shared the concerns of police and church groups worried that the extended drinking hours will invite alcohol-induced misbehavior and encourage drunk driving on clogged D.C. streets.
“We all share personal and professional interest in ensuring that President-elect Obama’s inauguration proceeds in a safe and dignified manner,” Durbin wrote.
D.C. officials are preparing for a record turnout for the inauguration, which will see Obama sworn in as the first black U.S. president.