D.C. bars won't stay open quite so late for inauguration

Under pressure from Congress, the D.C. government scales back plans to let bars stay open until 5 a.m. the weekend Barack Obama takes office

Published December 17, 2008 5:56PM (EST)

WASHINGTON -- If you're in town for the inauguration next month and find yourself wondering, at around 5 a.m., why you're not still happily toasting Barack Obama, blame Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Under pressure from Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Sen. Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican, the D.C. Council voted last night to amend a new law they had passed just a few weeks before, which would have let bars and nightclubs around serve alcohol until 5 a.m. and food all night. (The city is going a little crazy ahead of the inauguration.) After D.C. had adopted the new bar closing times, Feinstein and Bennett decided that would strain local police, which would -- of course -- create an unacceptable homeland security threat.

Since the District budget relies heavily on money from Congress, local officials usually listen when federal lawmakers decide to tell them how to run the city. Now, instead, bars will close at 4 a.m. -- which is still later than usual, and brings the inaugural celebration in line with D.C.'s New Year's Eve laws -- and must pay a fee for the right to do so.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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