Until that happens, Members, staff and international visitors are at risk, said Carl Goldman, executive director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 26.
“We have tour guides who regularly lead tours up to the Dome. There are also tourists going up who are the constituents of Members of Congress,” he said. “If there is a problem with lead paint, it needs to be fixed.”
In the 1990s, Capitol workers repaired water leaks in the Dome and the Statue of Freedom, the 19-foot-tall statue that sits atop the Dome, was airlifted off for restoration.
The first phase of the most recent set of Dome repairs was completed in the early 2000s, when workers removed 80,000 pounds of paint from the interstitial space between the interior and exterior of the Dome, and the area was repainted.
The final phase is an ambitious project meant to repair cracked or missing pieces of the exterior Dome and repaint it, repair the gutter system and windows, and install fall-protection and bird deterrent systems.
Inside the Dome, workers would install new mechanical and electrical systems, ductwork and interior lighting; remove asbestos; repair the platforms and catwalks; and add a new fire alarm, among other projects.
This work was meant to start after the 2013 inauguration, but the longer the skirt repairs are pushed back, the longer it is before the final repairs can begin.
The AOC priced this final phase at nearly $4 million, but as noted in the fiscal 2011 budget request, the price will go up as the work is delayed.
“If this project is postponed, cast iron plates will continue to corrode,” the report states. “The total cost of the rehabilitation will increase due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions.”
The AOC oversees a roughly $600 million annual budget, and last year Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers requested $690 million to make repairs across the Capitol complex.
The spending bill passed by the House slices $28.7 million from the agency’s budget compared with last year.
AOC spokeswoman Eva Malecki declined to comment on the project or say whether other projects have been postponed, citing a policy not to talk about pending legislation.