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Analysis: Budget Deal Temporarily Halts Eisenhower Memorial

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Visitors to the National Mall will soon see plenty of scaffolding, with ongoing construction at the Washington Monument and repairs set to begin on the U.S. Capitol dome next month. But construction on at least one project may have hit a roadblock. Congress has temporarily stopped funding for a memorial to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, planned for the south side of Independence Avenue across from the National Air and Space Museum. Lawmakers agreed on language suspending funding as part of the deal to end the government shutdown. David Hawkings, author of the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call, talks about the deal.

On Congress's latest decision to put construction funding on hold:

"This project costs $140 million — some of it will be raised privately, but that's still millions of dollars, and Congress is not in a position ideologically or financially to spend money on something on which there is not universal agreement. Fights on this are not new."

On whether politics played a role in the decision:

"It's politics with a lowercase 'p.' It's not partisan politics; it's not as though the Democrats think Eisenhower doesn't deserve this and the Republicans do. There's general agreement that Eisenhower may be the last president in our lifetime who has the kind of bipartisan support that would merit such a tribute."

On when the Eisenhower memorial will be completed:

"I think it could still be years. There's a board that's supposed to be meeting about this design. The architect who has drawn the design is one of the most prominent architects in the world right now. There's some talk asking him to go away and picking a new architect — that would set it back years and years. I think it's going to be quite some time before we see Eisenhower's smiling face across from the Air and Space museum."

On the U.S. Capitol architect starting renovations next month:

"All the bill did was allow lawmakers to move money around to get this project started. We discussed in the past, how sequestration meant across the board cuts, which meant that every single project was supposed to be trimmed by an equivalent amount. Many agencies have complained about that. This was one case where the architect said this is urgent."

Listen to the full analysis here.


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