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Sober Feinstein, Bennett team up

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Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., want a little less late-night drinking when revelers celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama next month.

The two — as chairwoman and a senior Republican on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies — together wrote District of Columbia officials asking them to reverse action they took last week to extend sale of alcohol until 5 a.m. the week of the inauguration.

"With projections as high as 4 million people planning to visit the city during this time period, we are deeply concerned that the plan approved by the City Council could seriously strain law enforcement resources that need to be focused on the large crowds and security requirements of the Inaugural and its impact on the city," the two wrote.

Feinstein said separately, "What is clearly meant as a boon to local businesses may instead create tremendous problems for already overwhelmed law enforcement agencies."

Bennett added, "Security needs to be the No. 1 priority during the Inaugural ceremonies, and extending the sale of alcohol until 5 a.m. in D.C. will only divert law enforcement resources away from their primary focus on security measures and crowd safety."

The D.C. council passed emergency legislation last week allowing bars, restaurants and nightclubs to continue serving alcohol until 5 a.m. for four nights during inauguration week. Normally, District bars are required to close at 2 a.m. weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. The city extends those hours only once a year, for New Year celebrations.

Bennett and Feinstein wrote, "There is great cause for celebration at this historic event. But we believe that the benefits of this emergency legislation, passed with little public notice, are far outweighed by its possible consequences."

E-mail: lee@desnews.com