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CR Sets High Bar for Eisenhower Memorial Construction

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Bishop said the continuing resolution “sends a message to the commission that there are significant concerns with the direction they’re going and with what they are trying to accomplish, and they need to rethink” plans for the Eisenhower Memorial.

“This, to me at least, would indicate that there’s growing unease in Congress about the ability to get this done,” he said.

Obstacles have included criticism from the Eisenhower family, negative feedback from the various bodies that need to approve the design and a congressional effort to scrap Gehry’s design, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop.

The Utah Republican said the continuing resolution “sends a message to the commission that there are significant concerns with the direction they’re going and with what they are trying to accomplish, and they need to rethink this.”

Simpson’s counterpart on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment — Chairman Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who also sits on the memorial commission, indicated through a spokesman that the language prohibiting construction originated in the House.

Neither side commented on whether it expected the waiver, or construction funding, to be restored after Jan. 15. The project has received $62 million to date, and exact requests for fiscal 2014 appropriations have yet to be determined, according to Cimko.

The $142 million price tag on the memorial dwarfs spending on previous presidential memorials, according to figures from the National Civic Art Society, an organization that has been highly critical of Gehry’s design.

A report prepared by the NCAS shows the cost of presidential memorials, adjusted to 2010 inflation levels. The Washington Monument would cost $44.8 million, the Lincoln Memorial $46.8 million and the Jefferson Memorial $39.77 million.

Justin Shubow, president of the NCAS, used a sports analogy to describe the Eisenhower Memorial’s fate under the continuing resolution: “Congress has called a time-out, moved the goal posts and taken the ball away.”

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