WASHINGTON—Today, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) congratulated Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers and his staff on completing the first comprehensive restoration of the Capitol Dome in more than 50 years. Ayers and his team have repaired more than 1,300 cracks and deficiencies in the dome’s cast iron. At a morning celebration marking the project’s successful completion, the speaker thanked everyone involved for all their hard work. Below are his remarks.
All I can say is, I am very, very impressed. This was a huge, huge job, and you did it flawlessly. Look, I remember, Stephen, not too long ago, we were up climbing the scaffolding on the outside with [“The Today Show“], looking at the progress. On time, under budget, accident-free — it’s amazing; it really is. This is my 18th year in Congress. I just got elected, as Stephen said, to my tenth term. I was here as a staffer five years before that. So it has been a long time since I’ve heard the words “on time and under budget.” And I don’t need any reminding, but I just want to stress to you, really, just how important your work is to all of us.
I remember — because as you know, my office is right off the side of the Rotunda — I remember when they closed off the Rotunda just to take down the scaffolding. It was just a couple of weeks. But it was just, for a couple of weeks, a big loss. It was just this sense you couldn’t go in the Rotunda, you couldn’t take constituents, people couldn’t go see their Rotunda. And even though it wasn’t very long, I was kind of bummed. Think if it was shut down forever. Think if the artwork wasn’t preserved. What a disappointment and a loss that would be.
Winston Churchill — We just did a Churchill event because we have a bust in Freedom Foyer the other night. And there are so many great Churchill quotes. I’m a huge Churchill fan. He once said that we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us. There is no place where that is not more true than the Rotunda and the U.S. Capitol. All the statues, all the chandeliers, the staircases, just everything, it has an effect on us. You walk through and you know this is where the greats that stood before us, you know, adjudicated. This is where Lincoln, you know, argued. This is where Adams, you know, did these things. It’s an amazing, inspiring place. And we have you to thank for preserving this daily dose of inspiration for us. This is one of those kinds of places that inspires us to be bigger and to be better than our everyday selves. And the day if you’re in Congress you don’t look up in awe of this awesome responsibility that we’ve been given is the day you shouldn’t be here. And so this building is really such an inspiration to those of us who serve here.
And you showed us all how a group of hardworking people working together can truly do something that’s grand. When you think about it, that’s kind of what this country is all about. When you think about the symbolism of what you’ve been able to accomplish here, and what it does to lead and to inspire and to raise our gaze to a bigger horizon, to be bigger than ourselves, and to think about how great our potential truly is, it is just the perfect symbolism for where we have to go. And I just want to say on behalf of the entire House of Representatives, on behalf of the United States Congress, and on behalf of the 300 million-plus Americans who have the opportunity to come here and see this great beacon of democracy, “Thank you.” Thank you for what you’ve done to make us proud. Thank you for what you’ve done to preserve this beautiful and inspiring legacy.