Can Eisenhower Memorial Go It Alone Without Congress?

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Frustrated with critics of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, now 16 years in the making, backers of Frank Gehry’s design appear to be putting their faith in former Sen. Bob Dole.  

“We need $150 [million] and he raised $170 [million] for the World War II Memorial,” boasted Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., when asked about the former Senate majority leader’s bullish private fundraising effort. "We've got the [Veterans of Foreign Wars]. We got all the veterans groups. ... I think it is coming together."  

Senate Heavy Hitters Join Eisenhower Memorial Efforts

Daschle, Dole and Lott will push to make the Ike memorial plan a reality. (Rebecca Roth/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Though Republicans in the House aren't fond of the current Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission's plan to honor the former president, heavy hitters from the GOP have hopped on board.  

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush joined the memorial's advisory committee, the EMC announced Wednesday, in addition to former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist of Tennessee and Trent Lott of Mississippi. The committee also added two prominent members of the Bush administrations, former secretaries of State James Baker III and Colin Powell. They will be joined by a prominent Democrat, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, in helping plan for a D.C. memorial 16 years in the making.  With former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., spearheading private fundraising efforts, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., leading the EMC, the effort to make architect Frank Gehry's $142 million design a reality looks like a powerful alumni club for the chamber.  

Bob Dole Steering Private Fundraising Campaign for Ike Memorial

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Bob Dole will not rest until he sees Dwight D. Eisenhower memorialized in Washington, D.C., so the 92-year-old former Senate majority leader and GOP presidential candidate is adding another bullet to his epic résumé.  

On Thursday, Dole took over as finance chairman of the Campaign for the Eisenhower Memorial, overseeing private fundraising efforts for the project. Constructing architect Frank Gehry's is projected to cost $142 million. "Bob Dole has been tireless in his support of the Eisenhower National Memorial. His passionate belief that the memorial should be constructed before Ike’s troops are gone has struck a chord in the hearts of all Americans," Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in a statement circulated by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission.  

Ike Memorial Gets Another Critic

Sensenbrenner slammed the panel planning a memorial to Ike. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As appropriators get down to business on fiscal 2016 spending, one House Republican is asking key players in the deal-making process not to compromise on their proposal to strip funding for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.  

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., criticized the commission's approach to planning a memorial park on a four-acre site in Southwest Washington, D.C., as "deeply flawed and highly contentious," in a letter to House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and ranking member Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y. The Aug. 21 missive, obtained by CQ Roll Call, slams the 11-member commission — which includes three senators and four congressmen — for its "complete disregard of critics" to architect Frank Gehry's design. It was penned two days after a scathing column  by conservative commentator George F. Will that characterized the project as a "monstrosity."  

Ike Memorial Panel Adds Ex-NRA Leader

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission is bringing out the big guns.  

Former National Rifle Association President David Keene has joined the commission's advisory committee, expanding the ranks of a panel that now includes more than 25 prominent individuals, including broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw. Keene led the NRA for two one-year terms from 2011 to 2013, following a long tenure as chairman of the American Conservative Union. (Matt Schlapp, the current ACU president, also sits on the memorial advisory commission.)  

Tom Brokaw Joins Ike Memorial Board

Brokaw helped make the WWII Memorial a reality. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The group planning a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced Wednesday that NBC News' Tom Brokaw has joined its advisory committee.  

Noting that Brokaw’s 1998 best-selling book, "The Greatest Generation," made him an expert in, and advocate for, the young American soldiers who served under Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission welcomed his support. Headed by Frank Fahrenkopf, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Gen. Paul X. Kelley, the former commandant of the Marine Corps, the advisory committee is working to get the controversial memorial built. Browkaw is no stranger to the perilous planning process behind breaking ground on Washington's monuments. He played a key role in the publicizing and fundraising for the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, from 2000 through its dedication in 2004. In February, the National WWII Museum honored Brokaw with the American Spirit Award.  

Taiwan Likes Ike, but Congress Withholds Memorial Support

Appeasing the Eisenhower family is all Roberts cares about right now. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Taiwan is pledging $1 million toward construction of a memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, a project that hasn't received any construction funds from Congress since fiscal 2012.  

Sen. Pat Roberts confirmed the gift Tuesday, boosting the project less than a week after architect Frank Gehry's design secured final approval from federal planners. But the Kansas Republican, who serves as chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, also acknowledged significant hurdles to putting shovels to dirt. While Congress has extended authorization for the four-acre site just off the National Mall and the 11-member commission that oversees it, appropriators continue to withhold the money needed to break ground on the $144-million project. Roberts stepped back Tuesday from his effort to secure additional funding in a future spending deal.  

FWIW, Ike Memorial Clears Planning Commission

Thompson, vice chairman of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, says it's time to set squabbling aside. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Capital Planning Commission gave final design approval, 9-1, Thursday to architect Frank Gehry’s plan for a memorial park to honor Dwight D. Eisenhower, over vocal objections of longtime design critics and concerns from some members of Congress  — including House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, whose representative cast the lone "no" vote.  

“I don't know that deferring action on this really gains anyone anything,” said Commissioner Beth White, a presidential appointee to the federal panel who has expressed concern about the scale of the project. Gehry's memorial park would cover a 4-acre site situated between the National Air and Space Museum and the Department of Education in Southwest D.C. "I hope I am wrong," White said, reiterating her worries before voting to approve the plan that includes a 447-foot long, 80-foot high metal tapestry depicting landscape scenes from Abilene, Kan., where Eisenhower grew up. The tapestry will be supported by a monumental colonnade, with two additional freestanding 80-foot columns, despite the former president’s granddaughters' public request for a simpler design .  

Frank Gehry's Ike Memorial Plan Adds to Interior Spending Discord

Simpson said Eisenhower family doesn't have to have "veto power" on memorial design "but they can't oppose it." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ask Rep. Mike Simpson , R-Idaho, about the fate of architect Frank Gehry's design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial and he'll tell you it's time to wipe the slate clean and start over.  

“There's been some real conflict between the staff, the Eisenhower family and, to some degree, Congress," said Simpson, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee panel that is urging a "reset" on memorial plans. "In the end, what you've got to have is a design that's supported by the Eisenhower family. They don't have to have veto power, but they can't oppose it," Simpson continued during a brief interview outside the House chamber. "So, I think it's best that they start over."  

House Appropriators Call for 'Reset' on Eisenhower Memorial Plans

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Dwight D. Eisenhower once declared that, "in preparing for battle, plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”  

Posing the biggest threat yet to architect Frank Gehry's plans for a memorial to to the 34th president, five-star general and supreme allied commander, the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a bill, 30-21, that would cut all funding for the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, and advanced non-binding language calling for a “reset” on the project, which has not received any construction funds from Congress since fiscal 2012. Only one member objected to the report on the Interior-Environment spending bill that urges House and Senate committees with jurisdiction to work expeditiously on legislation that would direct appointment of a new EMC staff, and authorize an "open, public, and transparent new design process" involving Congress, the Eisenhower family, the National Park Service and others.