2012 election far off but inaugural plans begin

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By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The presidential election may be seven months off, but congressional leaders have already begun planning for the winner's inauguration. The first item of concern? Preventing another "purple tunnel of doom."

Inauguration watchers may recall the 2009 mishap when thousands of ticketholders ended up trapped in a tunnel underneath the National Mall and were shut out of Barack Obama's swearing-in.

The planning committee's chairman, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, assured members Wednesday that the problem has been resolved. Lawmakers also unanimously approved a $1.2 million budget for the event on Jan. 21, 2013.

The panel's other Democratic members are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The Republican members are House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Lamar Alexander.

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