WASHINGTON -- Fourteen years after his impeachment, former President Bill Clinton is about to get a big building named after him in Washington.
While partisan divides continued to prevent lawmakers from avoiding the “fiscal cliff” the country faces, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted unanimously this week to rename the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building.
After President Barack Obama signs the bill into law, the Clinton building at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. will stand one block from the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, between the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
Clinton and Reagan are among a handful of presidents with major buildings or monuments bearing their names in the nation’s capital, which itself carries the name of the first president, George Washington.
“President Clinton not only protected the environment, which saved thousands of lives, he also maintained a strong economy and created jobs,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who sponsored the measure honoring Clinton.
The unanimous votes Tuesday in the two chambers of Congress came almost 14 years to the day after the House impeached Clinton on party lines, accusing him of perjury and obstruction of justice in testimony about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Senate later acquitted him on the charges.
Although largely symbolic, the honor continues Clinton’s political rehabilitation, which also received a boost in September with his delivery of a widely praised speech at the Democratic National Convention.
The former president, who in one of his most enduring quotes declared in 1996 that “the era of big government is over,” soon will have his name on the headquarters of a large federal agency.
Republican lawmakers spent much of Clinton’s presidency in the 1990s trying to hamstring the EPA by weakening the landmark laws it’s charged with enforcing, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and many Republicans still accuse the agency of hampering business with excessive regulations.
After serving two terms as president, Clinton founded and runs the William J. Clinton Foundation in New York, which has become a major nonprofit organization that fights AIDS and pursues other health initiatives around the globe.