WASHINGTON — Washington is once again worried about leaks — in this case, real ones from 1,300 cracks in the Capitol dome.
Warning that Capitol visitors are at risk of being struck by falling objects, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday appealed to House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to support $61 million in repairs to the structure.
“There is a time and a place to debate federal spending and the proper role of government, but most Americans believe that when your house has a leaky roof, you pay to fix the roof,” wrote Schumer, who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which oversees the Capitol complex.
“The Capitol’s dome is a monument to our nation’s representative democracy. It would be a national embarrassment if partisan gridlock allowed this iconic work of architecture to fall into a state of permanent decay,” he added.
Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith responded: “The speaker is confident we can work together to fix the Capitol dome without more political posturing from Sen. Schumer.”
The Republican-controlled House, seeking to reduce the federal budget deficit, earlier this year voted to cut the Capitol maintenance budget, drawing outcries from architect and engineering groups. The groups warned that delaying repairs would endanger not only Capitol visitors but precious artwork under the dome and end up costing taxpayers more.
But congressional leaders recently reached a budget deal to fund government programs at roughly current levels through March. Schumer asked Boehner to make the Capitol dome project an exception and provide the $61 million in a spending measure expected to come before the House and Senate next month.
The dome has been undergoing its first major restoration in more than 50 years.