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Reopening Reagan Airport topic of planned meeting

FALLS CHURCH, Virginia (CNN) -- Some Virginia lawmakers and Virginia's governor plan to meet with federal officials next week to discuss reopening Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, closed since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"The terrorists were able to cause the loss of over 6,000 lives," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, speaking to about 50 people at a meeting at a high school here Saturday. "We can't let them cause the loss of over 10,000 livelihoods here in the Washington region."

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Moran, who represents the area around the Pentagon and the airport, estimates more than 70,000 jobs are in jeopardy while the airport remains closed.

One Virginia resident said his hotel chain has already lost $6 million in reservations since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Rep. Tom Davis, a Republican who also represents northern Virginia, said he has arranged a meeting with President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, to discuss reopening the airport. Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf and Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore will also attend the meeting, he said.

Administration officials have indicated a decision on the airport's reopening could come early next week.

A senior administration official told CNN on Saturday that there is no disagreement within the administration about reopening the airport. The debate, the official said, is about when to reopen and under what security requirements and with what type of equipment installed to ensure maximum safety for passengers and nearby Washington landmarks.

"No one is saying 'Don't open it,'" the senior official said. "It's about thinking through it and doing it right."


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