Water has been leaking into the Rotunda through at least 1,300 cracks, The New York Times reports. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $61 million for repairs this summer, but the House of Representatives appears unlikely to act.
Stephen T. Ayers, the Capitol architect, said it is not just an aesthetic matter of water stains and rust. He called the Dome's condition "a public safety issue."
"This is not a 'bridge to nowhere' we're talking about here," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Rules Committee. "This is basic upkeep to the United States Capitol building. There is a time and place to debate spending levels and the proper role of the federal government, but when your house has a leaky roof, you pay to fix the roof."
In 1861, when the Civil War began, the dome was still unfinished. Work continued during the war years, with the Statue of Freedom placed on top in 1863.
The Dome was completely restored in 1960.