Sen. John W. Warner (R.Va.) pointed to Rep. Herbert E. Harris II(D.Va.), his partner on the stage of the Arlington County board room yesterday, and characterized the meeting as "the first filming of 'the odd couple' in action."
It was the second time in recent weeks that the freshman Republican senator and the liberal Democratic congressman had joined in a rare-for-Virginia bipartisan attack on a problem of mutual interest.
Last month, when they were first dubbed the "odd couple," the topic was federal impact aid for local schools. Yesterday, it was financing for the Metro transit system.
But the show, to which local elected officials from throughout Northern Virginia had been invited, had more to do with fanfare than financing.
Warner and Harris rode the Metro part of the way to the meeting. They boarded a train at the Capitol South station, accompanied by a flock of reporters whose editors had been alerted to the trip the night before .
They left the subway at the Rosslyn station, where they were met by aides who had raced ahead in automobiles, which were used for the short ride to the Arlington courthouse. After the one-hour meeting, with the cameras packed away. Warner and Harris returned to their capitol hill offices by car.
The advertised purpose of the meeting was to give Warner a chance to hear the views of officials from Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Fairfax City about a Metro financing bill that Warner plans to cosponsor with Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.).
Flanked by Harris and aides to Mathias, Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton, Rep. Joseph L. Fisher (D.-Va.) and D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy, Warner walked the audience through the legislation point-by-point.
It calls for the federal government to appropriate $1.7 billion between 1982 and 1985 as its share, or 80 percent, of the cost of completing the 101-mile rail system. A sinking fund would be set up to pay off bonds previously issued by the regional transit authority, with the federal share set at two-thirds. Beginning next year, the federal government would make an annual payment toward the operating deficit, increasing from $20 million in 1980 to $30 million in 1987.
Warner's explanation of the legislation prompted few questions, perhaps because most of the officials were familiar with similar legislation introduced by Harris two months ago. But with about two dozen mayors, council members, supervisors and legislators in the room, there was no dearth of speeches.
Several praised Warner for bipartisan cooperation. A fellow Republican, Fairfax County Supervisor John P. Shacochis, said it marked "a real mile-stone in political activity in Virginia. God bless you."
Harris did his part, too. Half way through the meeting, Warner announced that his congressional colleague "must leave to make a roll call vote." But a Harris aide acknowledged later that Warner's announcement was planned.
"We wanted John to have the last shot," the Harris staffer said. "It was really his show."