Like most things about the Hill, senatorial rides are easier to spot than you might think -- if you know what you're looking for. Here are some well-known characteristics:
(1) identifying campaign stickers on the bumper
(2) a state license plate (not always)
(3) a special white placard, usually in the front, that identifies the owner as a Senator and a member of the 112th Congress
(4) parked next to or near the Russell, Dirksen, or Hart Senate Office Buildings in between Union Station and the Capitol building
Unanimous Consent Senate Watch won't identify cars we've spotted unless they've been documented publicly by other, more mainstream sources. As you'll find out, there are still plenty of interesting things to find out about these Senate rides. Here are three that reflect differing Senate positions on energy and the environment.
Senator Richard Burr
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) easily has the most notable car on the Hill. It's a 1973 car called the Volkswagen Thing. It's a bumpy gray car with quite a few Richard Burr and Republican campaign stickers on the back, and it's routinely visible on Capitol Hill (we won't tell you where exactly - you have to find it) It got so much attention that ABC News profiled it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpL9e7Bf98c) in a segment. Senator Burr implies that improving energy policy and green standards might come at the expense of safety standards, a stance his car symbolizes. Other important notes: Senator Burr is a classic example of the Southern gentleman on Capitol Hill, and for whatever reason, he was a surprise vote in favor of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Senator Lamar Alexander
An important moderate Republican in the Senate Republican caucus, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is so into electric cars that he fitted his black Toyota Prius with a special battery. We think he's now upgraded to a Nissan LEAF. This actually makes sense. Nissan has a significant presence in Tennessee, employing many of Senator Alexander's constituents in Dechard and Smyrna. Tennessee attracts automakers and industry with a no-state level income tax policy. Of course, this means that the state sales tax is absurdly high, encouraging Tennessee shoppers to take advantage of lower rates in Alabama and Georgia when they can. Word has it that Senator Bob Corker, the junior Republican from Tennessee, helped attract Volkswagen to Chattanooga, TN when he was Mayor of that city. Senator Alexander supports subsidies for individuals buying electric cars, and he also supports nuclear power. It will be interesting to see how he will position himself if/when the Senate finally takes up an energy/environment/climate change bill.
Senator John Kerry
Senator Kerry's car can also be found somewhere on the Hill. He once owned a 2006 Ford Escape hybrid, and now drives a black Chevy Tahoe hybrid - a vehicle that looks quite presidential. The Senator is the leading Democratic voice on climate change and energy legislation, and the legislative force of nature behind the American Power Act (not passed yet due to political difficulties), the New START Treaty, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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