Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

From Dulles to Donald: Republicans Move to Rename Virginia Airport

If legislators pass a bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives, students and tourists flying into the nation’s capital may soon find themselves landing at the Donald J. Trump International Airport.

Introduced by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), the bill is simple in its mission: rename the existing Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Loudoun County, Va., after former President Trump. Though the bill is unlikely to pass in a Democratic-held Senate, should it be approved Trump would join a lengthy list of former presidents with namesake airports, including Bill Clinton (SFS ’68), John F. Kennedy and George Bush.

Brandon Wu (SFS ’24, GRD ’25), an avid aviation enthusiast, said the name attached to an airport — for example, Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, India — often works to tie historical figures to cities in public perception.

“As an aviation fan, I think naming an airport after someone generally becomes synonymous with speaking to the important connection of that person to the city,” Wu wrote to The Hoya.

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), who represents an area encompassing Dulles, said the potential renaming distracts from legislative priorities with greater social impact.

“This is just another in a long list of instances where extreme House Republicans have shown how unserious and delusional they are,” Wexton wrote to The Hoya. “Let’s get to work on the real issues the American people sent us here for, not renaming an airport after someone who sought to undermine our democracy.”

Jack Willis / The Hoya | Flights into Washington may soon land at a newly-renamed Donald J. Trump International Airport if a cohort of House Republicans can pass their bill.

In a highly polarized Congress, however, Wexton stands in contrast to some of her Republican colleagues who passionately support Trump. In particular, six cosponsors – Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) – joined Reschenthaler to promote the bill.

Reschenthaler, chief deputy whip of the House Republicans, said he feels the new name would invoke feelings of patriotism among travelers. 

“As millions of domestic and international travelers fly through the airport, there is no better symbol of freedom, prosperity, and strength than hearing ‘Welcome to Trump International Airport’ as they land on American soil,” Reschenthaler wrote in a press release.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), whose district borders the airport, said the Trump namesake would serve better purposes if used in a different type of government building.

“Donald Trump is facing 91 felony charges. If Republicans want to name something after him, I’d suggest they find a federal prison,” Connolly wrote in a press release.

After Trump instituted a temporary travel ban in 2017 on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, protesters — including Connolly — took to Dulles to organize.

Wu said that while he does not feel the Trump legacy merits renaming the airport, he feels Washingtonians should be aware that the history of Dulles’s current namesake is similarly problematic.

“Contextually though, I do think it’s important to recognize the namesake of Dulles—John Foster Dulles—and his harmful legacy abroad,” Wu wrote. “Dulles was part of the ‘Washington Consensus’ that decided that the US could best determine other nations’ interests abroad in the fight against communism, namely his support for the coup against Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran and his instigation of a CIA coup in Guatemala.”

On several occasions, Dulles, who served as secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, supported American intervention in foreign governments — including in Iran, Guatemala and Indonesia — under the premise of containing Soviet influence.

Regardless of whether legislators change the Dulles name, Wu said he holds treasured memories from the unique architectural facets of IAD.

“Riding the mobile lounges at Dulles is definitely nostalgic — on one of my first ever flights I remember going to China, we transited through Dulles and seeing all the planes on the tarmac likely helped inspire my interest in aviation to this day!” Wu wrote.

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About the Contributor
Jack Willis
Jack Willis, Executive Editor
Jack Willis is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service from St. Augustine, Fla., studying international politics. He won his middle school spelling bee. [email protected]
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