6:46 p.m. | Updated Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, citing years of inclement weather, sent a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner on Monday about the “severe disrepair” plaguing the Capitol dome.
The $61 million needed to finish renovations to the dome was appropriated by a Senate committee in early August, but omitted from the budget submitted by its House counterpart, which said there was not enough money to go around. Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, is now calling for the money to be included in a short-term spending bill that negotiators from the House and Senate are working on to keep the government operating through March 2013.
“The leaks in the dome may even subject the inside of the building – including the fresco painted upon the dome’s interior – to damage from the elements,” he said. “This upkeep is critical for the safety of those who work and tour the Capitol building every single day.”
He added: “The project also has major symbolic importance. The Capitol’s dome is a monument to our nation’s representative democracy. It would be a national embarrassment if partisan gridlock allowed this iconic work of architecture to fall into a state of permanent decay.”
Representative Ander Crenshaw of Florida, a Republican and leader of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, broke with his party and expressed hope that the money could be made available.
The skirt of the dome – the section around the base of the original sandstone foundation – was recently restored at a cost of $20 million. Mr. Schumer said that postponing more repairs would only increase the price tag.
“Most Americans believe that when your house has a leaky roof, you pay to fix the roof,” he said.
Update:Kevin Smith, spokesman for Speaker Boehner, said: “The Speaker is confident we can work together to fix the Capitol dome without more political posturing from Senator Schumer.”