The continuing resolution passed by Congress late last night to resolve the government shutdown and raise the statutory debt ceiling contains language that affects the fate of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, the subject of a debate every bit as heated, in its own way, as the federal budget showdown.
Per the Commemorative Works Act, the legislative authority for a commemorative work expires seven years after the date of the legislation authorizing the monument or memorial. The continuing resolution extends the authorization for the Eisenhower Memorial, whose 2006 authorization has expired.
However, the language in the continuing resolution also strips a waiver that affects the construction of the Eisenhower Memorial—and could potentially set its fate. That waiver previously enabled construction on the Eisenhower Memorial to begin before all of the funds for its design and construction have been raised. Sec. 138 (b) of the Continuing Appropriations Act strips that waiver, meaning that the funds must be raised in advance.
Without the waiver, it is unlikely that construction can begin any time soon. And while there are other reasons why construction on the Eisenhower Memorial is unlikely to proceed before the end of the year, this new stipulation sets a high bar for when construction can happen.
Total project costs for the memorial, designed by architect Frank Gehry, FAIA, are estimated at $142 million. Congress has appropriated about $60 million for the project's construction. The Eisenhower Memorial Commission has previously outlined a private fundraising goal of $35 million.
A spokesperson for the commission says that the language in the continuing resolution does not affect any work planned between now and January, when the new continuing resolution expires.
Earlier this month, former Republican National Committee chairman Frank Fahrenkopf joined the Eisenhower Memorial Commission advisory commission. In September, the commission pulled out of a meeting with the National Capital Planning Commission to review Gehry's design. In August, President Barack Obama appointed Bruce Cole—an art historian and fierce critic of Gehry's design—to the commission. In July, however, Gehry's design secured approval from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.
It remains to be seen how fundraising will be affected by the controversy, which has played out in House hearings, editorials in support and opposed, and frustrated testimonials from members of the Eisenhower family. With the new legislative language, fundraising represents a different kind of obstacle: All the money must be raised before any work can begin, and all the money must be raised before the legislative authority for the memorial's site and design formally expires.
This post has been updated.