The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and 10 other groups have sent a letter to Congressional leaders warning that cuts to the Architect of the Capitol (AOC)’s budget could lead to further deterioration of the U.S. Capitol and wind up costing taxpayers more in the long run.
“There is little disagreement that the federal government, including Congress, must live within its means and be judicious in its consideration of short and long term expenditures,” the letter states. “However, the AOC’s FY2013 budget is focused primarily on needed maintenance and repair projects that are designed to keep the buildings of the Capitol complex – some of them nearly two centuries old – in proper working order.”
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Among the projects at risk, the letter states, is the ongoing renovation of the U.S. Capitol dome and its supporting structures. As reported by the LA Times, a House-approved $7.5-million cut to this year’s $36-million budget for operations and maintenance of the Capitol threatens to stop work on the cast-iron dome’s multimillion-dollar restoration project.
“These projects are not discretionary, nor are they luxuries; their upkeep and maintenance is imperative to the effective operations of the Capitol. In fact, delays will undoubtedly lead to higher costs for taxpayers as defects worsen and repair costs rise due to inflation,” the letter adds.
“The U.S. Capitol is not merely Congress’ work space; it is also an attraction for millions of visitors from around the world, a shining example of American architecture – and home to priceless works of art – and a potential target for those who wish to do us harm,” states the letter. “Delaying or cancelling needed improvements will make the Capitol complex less safe, harm the functioning of Congress and endanger our country’s cultural heritage.”
The letter was also signed by the American Society of Civil Engineers, ASHRAE, the Glass Association of North America, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Ingersoll Rand, the Institute for Market Transformation, the National Institute of Building Sciences, AEC Science & Technology, Ecobuild America and The Stella Group, Ltd.