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Eisenhower Memorial Complaints Reach Fever Pitch

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Darrell Issa says he will withhold his support for the Eisenhower Memorial design should the commission go ahead with its July 12 meeting with the National Capital Planning Commission.

Opposition to the proposed design for a memorial to President Dwight Eisenhower has reached a fever pitch, with high-level officials in the Obama administration and senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill adding to the chorus of calls to halt momentum on the project.

This week, the Eisenhower family said it still opposed the design concept for the memorial on the National Mall to the former president and supreme commander of the allied forces during World War II.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also weighed in on the design, saying it was important for the 11-member Eisenhower Memorial Commission to continue working to put forth a proposal that the family can get behind.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee, which grants the Memorial Commission the bulk of its funding, said in a recent letter obtained by Roll Call that he, too, doesn’t care for the design.

And Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced he would withhold his support for the design should the commission go ahead with its July 12 meeting with the National Capital Planning Commission, which must approve the proposal in order to break ground.

Issa is a voting member of the NCPC, in his capacity as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia.

But the committee also has investigative and subpoena authority over the federal government, and to that extent, Issa has requested correspondence from the General Services Administration to determine whether the selection of renowned architect Frank Gehry was handled properly. Some stakeholders have asked whether the GSA, which oversaw the selection of the architect in an open competition, was using a transparent and inclusive process.

“As both chairman of the Oversight Committee and a voting member of the National Capital Planning Commission ... it is my duty to ensure that the design selection process is as transparent as possible and the memorial itself properly honors a man of President Eisenhower’s stature,” Issa wrote in a letter in a letter to Rocco Siciliano, chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. “I would request that you and your fellow Commissioners refrain from making a recommendation to [NCPC] until after all documents have been produced and there has been an opportunity for review.”

Issa wrote to the GSA in early March to request information that could shed light on the process the agency used to select Gehry. Having heard nothing back, he followed up with the agency on May 18 to say that the committee would take more drastic steps if it doesn’t get answers.

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