The Architect of the Capitol is soliciting bids for a contractor for the second phase of repairs to the aging Dome.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he had the option of trading in his ranking member slot on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee for a more prestigious leadership role on the broader panel.
But while subcommittee assignments haven’t been made official, Hoeven told CQ Roll Call he expects to stay on as the top Republican overseeing the smallest of the 12 annual appropriations bills, which funds the operations of Congress.
It’s because, he said, he wants to help secure funding to move into phase two of restoring the aging Capitol Dome, a pet project he took on in the 112th Congress during his first two years in office.
Hoeven also said he’s already working behind the scenes to make the money available, perhaps as early as the end of March, when the current stopgap spending measure expires and new legislation is needed to float the government through the remainder of fiscal 2013.
“It is not a done deal yet,” Hoeven said in an interview last week. “We’ve been working on it and building bipartisan support and recognition that it needs to get done.
“I want to see it through,” he continued, suggesting the reality that the funds might not come through until the start of fiscal 2014.
But the Architect of the Capitol also is signaling that an agreement to fund the project may be imminent. Last week, it began the formal process of soliciting bids for contractors to oversee the second phase of repairing the historic structure that is deteriorating after 150 years of weather damage and under the duress of at least 1,300 known cracks.
Justin Kieffer, a senior communications specialist working on the Capitol Dome restoration project with the AOC, would not confirm what sorts of conversations were going on that might have prompted the agency to take the bold initiative to start the contracting process.
“We are confident that the work will be funded at Congress’ earliest convenience,” Kieffer said. “When funding is approved, we can be ready to stay on track for completion of the project before the next inauguration.”
Phase one, now complete, was funded at the eleventh hour to restore the Dome’s lower level, or skirt. Phase two, to which the call for contractors relates, would involve making repairs to the Dome’s exterior ironwork, columns, decorative ornaments, gutters and electrical systems. It would cost roughly $61 million.
Many lawmakers argue that the longer the money is held up, the more expensive the project will become as the Dome continues to erode.
But in the fiscal 2013 appropriations cycle, House Republicans on the Appropriations Committee and in leadership balked at the price tag, saying they recognized the importance of moving forward with the Dome’s restoration but were ultimately unable to justify the expense in the current fiscal environment.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.