Today Congress announced a sprawling plan for spending and tax legislation that would prevent an encroaching government shutdown, while notably lifting bans on US oil exports and sledding on Capitol Hill. Yes, sledding.
According to a report on The Wall Street Journal, the "sledding ban on the hill was implemented after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." The publication covered enforcement of the sledding ban last February, when a group of frustrated parents and cherubic kids briefly slid down the hill as protest (above), before being told to leave by Capitol police.
Why have a hill if you can't sled on it?
Sledding was last legally and briefly sanctioned on Capitol Hill in February 2010, thanks to some political maneuvering by Senator Chris Dodd during a particularly heavy snowstorm. Like a failed provision from May 2015, this new provision wouldn't lift the ban outright, but would, in its own words, "instruct the Capitol Police to forebear enforcement of 2 U.S.C. 1963 ('An act to protect the public property, turf, and grass of the Capitol Grounds from injury') and the Traffic Regulations for the United States Capitol Grounds when encountering snow sledders on the grounds."
According to a report on The Atlantic, the tug of war between children and the government for use of Capitol Hill grounds dates back to a 1875 law intended "to prevent any portion of the Capitol Grounds and terraces from being used as playgrounds or otherwise, so far as may be necessary to protect the public property, turf and grass from destruction or injury."
The current provision hinges on President Barack Obama signing the bill into law, and while a spending plan of this magnitude contains many moving parts that will impact the lives of millions of people for better or for worse, it's safe to assume this will be the leader of our nation's defining act on the legislation of winter recreation. The fate of the district's toboggans rest in his powerful hands.