The Corner

In Honor of Bill Clinton, Congress Pushes ATF Hero Off Building, Into Pool

To the catchphrases Whitewater and Troopergate, the transformation of Monica Lewinsky into a household name, and the use of national television airwaves to discuss the meaning of the word “is,” former president Bill Clinton will soon add another item in his legacy. This Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters at 100 Pennsylvania Avenue will be officially dedicated as the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building. After a unanimous vote to approve the naming by both houses of Congress, EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe announced the ceremony in an email to Agency employees, excerpted here:

Dear Colleagues:

This Wednesday, July 17th, at 11:30 am ET, there will be a ceremony to name the EPA Agency Headquarters in honor of President Bill Clinton. We invite you to join in this historic occasion by viewing the event in selected video conference rooms around headquarters and our regions or watching it on IPTV.

In December 2012, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to name our Agency Headquarters building at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. as the “William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building.”

At that time, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who authored the legislation, stated that “Bill Clinton demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting public health and the environment … [his] Administration created the Office of Children’s Health Protection, tightened drinking water standards for toxins such as arsenic, and reduced harmful air pollution that causes heart attacks, strokes, and premature deaths. He has continued to champion the environment.”

There’s just one slight problem — the building already has a name:

As you may be aware, our Headquarters building was previously known as the “Ariel Rios Building,” and was formerly the location of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) headquarters. The ATF is now located at 99 New York Avenue, NE in Washington, DC. The ATF will honor the memory of Special Agent Ariel Rios by naming the reflecting pool at the current ATF headquarters as the “Ariel Rios Reflecting Pool,” in accordance with the wishes of the family.

As an undercover agent on a presidential anti-drug task force in south Florida, Rios died in the line of duty on December 2, 1982. During a sting operation in a Homestead motel, Rios was shot in the face while defending his fellow agents from drug runners who had recognized their secret identities. His killers were sentenced to life in prison plus 50 years; Rios left behind his wife Elsie, their daughter Eileen, and their infant son Francisco.

But let’s hear it for tighter drinking-water standards!

UPDATE: This has been modified since its original posting.

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