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Continuing Controversy

The Senate passed a measure by unanimous consent on Tuesday that requires the Architect of the Capitol to allow the word God to appear on flag certificates.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced the proposal two weeks ago after the AOC denied a flag certificate with the word God to a 17-year-old constituent of Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio). That led Turner to ask other Members to protest an AOC policy that prohibited religious references on flag certificates. [IMGCAP(1)]

Turner’s call gained support from Members in both chambers and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Acting Architect Stephen Ayers altered the policy, placing no restrictions on religious messages that can appear on certificates.

Turner introduced a similar measure, which was referred to the House Administration Committee.

Zippy Merger. Zipcar and Flexcar, vehicle-sharing companies that make fleets of cars available for rental to D.C. residents, announced Wednesday that they will merge into one company under the Zipcar brand.

The merger will make Zipcar Chief Executive Officer Scott Griffith the CEO of the new company while Flexcar CEO Mark Norman will act as chief operating officer. Both companies were founded in 1999 on opposite coasts with Zipcar headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and Flexcar in Seattle. Integration will take about six months, according to Zipcar and the company will be based in Cambridge.

“This merger will be a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” Griffith said in a release. “The combined company will provide our members with increased benefits and improve our ability to expand into new markets.”

The two brands, which provide vehicles at various locations to be rented via Internet or telephone for an hour or more, have been competing in the D.C. area with cars costing an average of $10-$11 an hour.

Earlier this week Roll Call reported that House Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard announced a pilot program that will make four Zipcars available in the Rayburn House Office Building garage for staffers’ use. Three of the cars will be hybrids.

Fire Alarm. The Hart and Dirksen Senate Office Buildings were briefly evacuated early Wednesday afternoon after a small fire broke out in a stairwell in the basement of the Hart building.

Capitol Police and the District of Columbia Fire Department responded to the blaze, which was quickly extinguished. The cause remained unknown, according to a police spokeswoman. The fire comes almost three weeks after small fires broke out in trash cans in women’s restrooms in Hart and Dirksen. Those fires remain under investigation.

— Elizabeth Brotherton and Alison McSherry

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