Costs rise as Capitol Building crumbles

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Key parts of the antiquated U.S. Capitol campus are literally crumbling, desperately in need of more than $200 million in repairs.

Water is leaking through pin holes in the Statue of Freedom. Lead-based paint chips are flaking off the Rotunda walls and collecting on the tour route to the Capitol dome, putting visitors at risk. Last summer, a U.S. Capitol Police officer was injured when he was struck by a falling ceiling tile in the Cannon House Office Building. And in the garage of the Rayburn House Office Building, parts of the parking deck require a full concrete-slab replacement — and without it, vehicles could be damaged, according to previously unreleased committee testimony.

The Architect of the Capitol has asked for at least $216 million to help repair some of the historic structures within the Capitol, but his wish list has crashed into political reality: Lawmakers don’t want to be seen spending taxpayer money to spruce up their own offices while deficits spiral out of control.

“I have no doubt that many of them are good and legitimate requests,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who sits on the House Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch. “However, in a time of severely constrained resources, tough decisions must be made.”...

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