To the myriad indignities suffered by Congress, including stagnant legislation, partisan warfare and popularity on a par with petty criminals, add this: the Capitol’s roof is leaking, and there is no money to fix it…
The dome has 1,300 known cracks and breaks. Water that has seeped in over the years has caused rusting on the ornamentation and staining on the interior of the Rotunda, just feet below the fresco “The Apotheosis of Washington,” which is painted on the Rotunda’s canopy.
Like most of what the federal government is on the hook to fix — highways, bridges and airports — the dome is imperiled both by tough economic times and by a politically polarized Congress. While Senate appropriators have voted to repair the dome, which has not undergone major renovations for 50 years, their House counterparts say there is not money right now. In that way, the dome is a metaphor for the nation’s decaying infrastructure.
“The dome needs comprehensive rehabilitation,” said Stephen T. Ayers, the architect of the Capitol, whose office oversees the building’s physical state. “It’s a public safety issue.”
The skirt of the dome — the section around the base of the original sandstone foundation — was fixed up recently at a cost of about $20 million, but an additional $61 million is needed to repair and restore the rest of the structure’s exterior…
“This is not a ‘bridge to nowhere’ we’re talking about here,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the leader of the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees the architect’s office. “This is basic upkeep to the United States Capitol building. There is a time and place to debate spending levels and the proper role of the federal government, but when your house has a leaky roof, you pay to fix the roof.”
It’s easiest for everyone to malign Congress as a whole. But, everyone – including Republicans, including the nuttiest of the Kool Aid Party – knows who is wholly responsible for getting absolutely nothing accomplished since the 2010 elections. The Tea Party pantywaist populists and Republican Party honchos who think they’re being the best beancounters in the world by putting a halt to any task Congress may attempt.
Saying they’re saving money doesn’t make it so. Saying they have a constitutional mandate doesn’t make it so. Saying they’re following the will of the people – on the basis of a not-so-unusual mid-term election – never makes it so. And since most of this crowd haven’t learned to lie as skillfully as the leftover Republican Party bosses – they rely on blaming everyone but the people who say “NO” to everything.
Including fixing the roof.