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New Projects Cut From AOC’s Budget

Asserting that the Architect of the Capitol’s office should focus on completing current projects — including the Capitol Visitor Center — a House Appropriations subcommittee eliminated funds for new construction ventures Wednesday.

Under the spending bill passed by the Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch, the Architect’s office would receive less than half of the $585 million it had requested for fiscal 2005.

Instead, the AOC will receive $272 million, a decrease of 20 percent from its current $340 million budget.

Appropriations Chairman Bill Young’s (R-Fla.) list of highlights from the measure notes the legislation: “Does not fund any new major construction projects through the Architect of the Capitol to allow the Architect to focus their resources on current, ongoing projects, particularly the Capitol Visitor Center.”

In addition, a spokeswoman for Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who chairs the legislative branch subcommittee, said the panel will not fund any new projects until the visitor center is completed.

Construction on the 580,000-square-foot subterranean structure, which carries a $421 million price tag, is slated for completion in spring 2006.

Kingston, a vocal critic of the CVC’s construction delays and costs — which required a $48 million infusion in the fiscal 2004 budget — said his panel will seek to limit any growth in the project’s budget.

“We are really going to hold the Architect’s and contractor’s feet to the fire on it,” he said.

The panel did, however, approve the AOC’s request for $14.5 million in start-up funds for the CVC, which will cover equipment, custodial and administrative services.

In addition, Kingston said, management of the visitor center could be a topic of discussion when the full Appropriations Committee meets to mark up the legislative branch bill.

The Georgia lawmaker supports privatizing management of the visitor center, rather than delegating control to a legislative branch agency.

— Jennifer Yachnin

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