Posts tagged with "Congress":

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National Trust urges Congress to support historic preservation efforts during coronavirus crisis

On April 30, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and five partnering organizations sent a letter to leaders in the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to consider specific program funding in any future coronavirus-related federal stimulus packages. The intent is to help to “catalyze the economic recovery of nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and the arts and culture sector, while also protecting historic and cultural resources” during and in the wake of the pandemic. Submitted to Congress by the National Trust alongside Main Street America, the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, the Coalition for American Heritage, the National Preservation Partners Network, and Preservation Action and endorsed by over 375  historic preservation organizations and businesses, the letter is quick to extend gratitude toward lawmakers for provisions within March’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, the CARES Act, that have aided nonprofit organizations working within the arts and humanities sector. That includes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a universal above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions,  and emergency funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. However, the National Trust stresses that much more help will be needed moving forward as “nonprofit organizations continue to operate in a state of economic crisis due to the loss of revenue from closures, event cancellations, and a decline of charitable contributions.” In addition to an extension of the PPP, the letter calls for the following provisions: An enhancement of the federal historic tax credit; supplemental funding of $420 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, including additional funding for state and tribal preservation offices, as well as a “significant investment in rehabilitation and related historic resource programs through existing competitive grant programs;” the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act (S. 3422), which would provide $9.5 billion in funding over a five-year span for deferred repair needs within the National Park Service and other agencies; additional enhancements of the charitable giving incentives included in the CARES Act; additional funding to the arts and humanities agencies that received aid as part of the CARES Act, and lastly, “urging opposition to legislative exemptions from provisions in the National Historic Preservation Act, including Section 106, or the National Environmental Policy Act.” The above provisions were borne from a comprehensive engagement effort initiated by the National Trust to “develop a list of legislative priorities vital to sustaining the broad preservation sector comprised of local, state and national organizations, Main Street communities, historic sites, and more,” as explained by Pam Bowman, director of public lands policy with the National Trust. “We conducted outreach to partners and allies across the country to learn the immediate needs required to protect the nation’s historic and cultural resources at this unprecedented time.” The National Trust is also imploring those within the preservation community to keep their local officials’ collective feet to the fire during a time when “the outlook for legislative activity in Congress remains fluid and uncertain.” Per statistics calculated by the American Alliance of Museums and shared by the Preservation Leadership Forum, museums, including historic cultural sites, are losing roughly $33 million per day due to coronavirus-related closures. This endangered sector supports 726,000 annual jobs and contributes $50 billion to the economy each year. On March 13, the National Trust announced its national staff would transition to remote working, and that tours and programming would be suspended at all nine stewardship sites that it owns and operates: the Glass House, the Farnsworth House, Lyndhurst, Villa Finale, the Woodrow Wilson House, the Gaylord Building, Shadows-on-the-Teche, Chesterwood, and Woodlawn Plantation/the Pope Leighey House. At the time, co-stewardship and contracted affiliate-operated historic sites had been left to decide whether or not to continue operating based on local safety restrictions and other factors, although all 27 historic sites in the National Trust's portfolio are now listed as being closed to visitors. In the meantime, visitors can remotely visit a slew of historic sites across the country, some rarely open to the public, as part of the National Trust’s inaugural Virtual Preservation Month. Kicking off with a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House in Virginia, a new virtual experience at a different National Trust Historic Site, designated National Treasure, or participating site with the Historic Artists' Homes and Studios program will be unveiled each day throughout the month of May.
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AIA urges Congress to address the effects of coronavirus on the architecture profession

On March 19, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) president Jane Frederick and CEO Robert Ivy sent a letter on behalf of the organization to Congress regarding the economic impact that the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, will have on the architecture profession with suggestions for an economic stimulus package. Representing around 95,000 members, making it the largest design organization in the United States, the letter implores Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to provide temporary relief measures for business owners and to make a long-term investment in 21st-century infrastructure. To address the already-felt economic impact of the pandemic on building design and construction, the first initiative requests an investment in Small Business Interruption Loans for businesses under 500 employees. Providing relief in the short run, the letter contends, will allow employers to avoid layoffs while covering costs associated with payroll, rent, and other obligations in the immediate term. “Furthermore,” the letter reads, “the federal government should suspend the collection of business taxes, including payroll tax, for the duration of the pandemic.” The second initiative speaks to both the current needs and future threats facing America’s built environment, including climate change and sea-level rise. “This global pandemic has laid bare the preexisting resource shortage currently facing many of these facilities,” the letter reads. “Looking to the future, the World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that climate change will contribute to worsening storms and more frequent pandemics. Buildings must be resilient in the face of these disasters while also not contributing to the underlying problem by generating greenhouse gas emissions and unhealthy air quality. We must expect more from the built environment than ever before.” The letter estimates that the government should invest a minimum of $300 million over five years towards the construction of resilient and sustainable public buildings. These two measures, the AIA argues, will “provide necessary relief in the short-term, reassurance to global markets, and will help prepare this country for the challenges ahead.” Congress has not yet offered a response. The letter was sent to Congress only four days after the AIA announced that it would postpone its 2020 National Conference in Los Angeles to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
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House passes bill to build women’s history museum on National Mall

A Smithsonian museum dedicated to women’s history in the United States is closer to becoming a reality. The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill last week that would allow the build-out of a national women’s history museum on or near the National Mall in Washington, D.C According to HR1980, two potential sites are up for consideration: One by the Senate and Capitol buildings, and one closer to the Washington Monument and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The bill’s sponsors, Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Brian Fitzpatrick, Brenda Lawrence, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, won support for the project across both sides of the aisle in the House, gaining approval in a 374-37 vote.  “For too long, women’s history has been left out of the telling of our nation's history,” the sponsors wrote in a statement. “Today, the House of Representatives took an important first step to change that. Women are part of every American moment, and their contributions should be recognized and celebrated.”  Maloney, a Democrat from New York’s 12th district who now heads up the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has spent over two decades trying to get a bill in motion for such a museum. In 2014, she helped formulate legislation that allowed the creation of a congressional commission to study the idea of a museum about women’s history. She later introduced a similar bill to HR1980 that ultimately did not make it to the House floor in 2017. The last Smithsonian museum to be inaugurated on the National Mall was the Adjaye Associates-designed NMAAHC in 2016. If the timeline of that project is any indication, a women’s history museum might not break ground for several years once a companion bill is passed in the Senate. The NMAAHC took four years to build; eight years to begin construction after legislation was passed in Congress, and over 20 years after the proposal was first introduced on the House floor.  It’s unclear just how long the journey from bill to building will be, but what is clear is that there will reportedly be a larger push than ever this year for the museum due to the upcoming presidential election and this summer’s centennial celebration of women’s suffrage in the United States. Many believe a project like this is long overdue. According to CBS, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) was the only woman in the House that voted against the bill last week, saying she “believes women’s accomplishments deserve to be honored in an equal manner, alongside those of men.” Other critics have cited concerns over whether the museum would be truly inclusive and whether or not it would show both sides of women’s issues such as abortion rights, though a section of HR1980 clearly states that curators will take steps to ensure “diversity of political viewpoints in exhibits and programs.” Senators Susan Collins and Dianne Feinstein are sponsoring a similar bill, which will soon come online in the Senate. If also passed, the next question over the museum’s future will revolve around funding. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the project would be paid for via a combination of federal funds and private donations, as well as grants from philanthropic foundations.
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Democrats introduce bill in Congress to establish a National Climate Bank

Last week, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced a bill that could help fund clean energy goals across the United States and spur up to $1 trillion in private investment. With the creation of a National Climate Bank, $35 billion of government funds would be set aside and dolled out over a six-year period to climate change-resilient infrastructure projects. “Establishing a National Climate Bank will serve as an important implementation tool to achieve this goal by publically financing and stimulating private investments in clean, renewable energy projects, clean transportation, and support communities most affected by climate change,” said Dingell in a statement.  Climate banks aren’t a new concept. Fourteen states, including Dingell’s own, have established their own banks over the last few decades. Michigan’s Green Bank cuts property owner’s energy costs if they make a commitment to use less energy or go green by installing geothermal or solar panel systems. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Hawaii have their own versions of green banks as well, while New York boasts the largest in the country. Over its first five years, it contributed $1.6 billion in investments.  While it’s been proven that publically-funded green banks work—other countries including Switzerland and the United Kingdom have found success and are expanding their initiatives—the U.S. has yet to launch a dedicated federal plan. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate over the summer, however. As members of the Environment and Publish Works Committee, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) argued that the National Climate Bank could be capitalized with an initial $10 billion, with $5 billion added every year for five years.  While it’s unlikely that such legislation will pass during the Trump administration, discussions on what a National Climate Bank could look like are imperative, according to the Coalition for Green Capital (CGB). What’s more, several 2020 presidential candidates have listed green banks in their own plans to tackle climate change, so it's likely we'll be hearing more about them in the coming year. In an interview with Smart Cities Dive, CGB executive director Jeffrey Schub explained that such funds mobilize investment in lower-income communities at faster rates than the private sector can, meaning lesser-known but equally-important climate-conscious projects can receive help. For example, both Washington, D.C., and Baltimore built local banks to offer assistance with their decarbonization strategy and more.  “This is a critical piece of any sort of comprehensive climate policy,” Schub told Smart Cities Dive. “The private markets might figure this out in time, but because time is a factor, you have to put your foot on the gas.” 
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Congress may follow architects' lead in constructing bird-safe buildings

In recent years, many architects have taken the initiative to design buildings, specifically mid- to high-rise glass buildings, with materials that help reduce bird deaths. It’s a major problem in the United States and one that people are becoming more aware of as recent studies show that hundreds of millions of migratory birds die each year from fatal window strikes. Not only are firms like Studio Gang, KieranTimberlake, and Ennead keeping this top of mind, but Congress is too. This week Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would try to prevent bird collisions on new federal buildings. The Bird-Safe Buildings Act would require all public buildings under construction, as well as those acquired or altered by the General Services Administration, to feature bird-safe building materials and designs when at all possible. “Almost one-third of all bird species in the U.S. hold endangerment status, which gives us the responsibility to protect birds from preventable deaths,” said Rep. Quigly in a statement. “By using materials that conceal indoor lighting to the outside, we can dramatically reduce the frequency of birds colliding with glass buildings. With birding activities supporting 620,000 jobs and bringing in $6.2 billion in state tax revenues, this is both an environmental and economic issues with a relatively simple, cost-neutral, humanitarian fix.” The legislation would establish guidelines for public building projects and outline the types of materials most appropriate for glass-clad construction. Through the act, any use of plain glass would only be allowed on the first 40 feet of a building. Only 40 percent of plain glass could be integrated above that height. This isn’t the first time a bird-centric bill has come to Congress. Quigly first brought it up to the House of Representatives in 2010 and has since spread awareness on the topic and advocate for bird safety as vice chair of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). In addition to Quigly’s efforts, Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) also reintroduced a version of the bill, the Federal Bird-Safe Buildings Act of 2017, in the Senate earlier this month. Booker’s bill would require all new federal buildings or renovations be built with at least 60-to-90 percent of non-glass materials. Any glass used would need to be fritted, screened, shaded, or UV-reflective, according to Audubon Pennsylvania. Both bills are backed by animal rights organizations, leaders in sustainable design, and national environmental groups. FXCollaborative, the National Audubon Society, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Humane Society, and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others, support Quigley’s legislation.
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New federal act could give mass timber a big boost

Climate-change denial appears to be on the verge of becoming official U.S. policy. But all hope for reducing our carbon footprint is not lost. Case in point is the pending Timber Innovation Act, one of the rare eco-friendly pieces of legislation that enjoys bipartisan support. The bill (H.R. 1380, S. 538) seeks to establish a market for so-called mass timber buildings more than 85 feet tall that are built from panelized wood construction products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glued-laminated timber (glulam).

“Building with wood benefits both rural economies and the environment,” U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) said when she announced the legislation in early March. “This bill will help expand markets for wood products coming out of forests in Michigan and all across the country. At the same time, using wood for construction reduces pollution and incentivizes private landowners to keep their land forested, rather than selling it to developers.”

Architects who study the new wood construction materials say mass timber has economic, ecological, seismic, and aesthetic advantages over steel and concrete. “Photosynthesis, the process of growing a tree, absorbs C02,” explained New Haven architect Alan Organschi, adding, “Until it burns or decomposes, that carbon will stay in the wood like a bank investment.”

The concrete and steel industries are adamantly opposed to the Timber Innovation Act. More than 160 stakeholders from the construction, labor, and building materials sectors jointly signed a letter to the U.S. Senate opposing a version of the bill introduced last year. The letter questioned the fire and structural safety of mass timber and stated the bill would create an “imbalance in the marketplace by allowing the federal government to choose winners and losers.”

However, the bill’s supporters say the new wood technology promises to significantly reduce carbon loads in the building industry, which is currently responsible for close to half of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions. A typical mid-rise concrete and steel building, because it relies on pollution-generating resource-extraction industries, is responsible for emitting 3,210 tons of CO2 in its construction and lifetime, according to Timber City, an initiative undertaken by Organschi’s firm, Gray Organschi Architecture, that is supported by the Hines Research Fund for Advanced Sustainability at Yale University. In contrast, because trees are a renewable resource that sequesters CO2, a typical mass timber mid-rise building built from wood harvested from sustainably managed forest is responsible for capturing 4,720 tons of CO2.

Innovations in mass timber technology also resolve fireproofing and seismic issues that, until recently, were a major disincentive to using wood in large urban buildings, according to Yugon Kim, founding partner of the architecture firm IKD, who curated the exhibit Timber City at the National Building Museum in Washington last fall. “U.S. cities in the 1800s used to be made of wood, but then because of urban fires that started to change,” he said. “Now, because of products like CLT, we will be able to use wood in the centers of our cities the way we did in the past.”

Tall wood building construction is most advanced in Europe, especially in Austria, which boasts the world’s largest mass timber industry. An example of a commercially viable mass timber development that garnered worldwide attention is the nine-story Murray Grove designed by Waugh Thistleton Architects, which was built in London in 2009. It consists of wood load-bearing walls, wood elevator cores, and wood floor slabs. In addition to paying off for the environment, Murray Grove took only 49 weeks to build, whereas an equivalent-size concrete structure would typically have taken 72 weeks to build.

The mass timber industry is still in its infancy in the U.S. There are only several wood companies that make mass timber products, and local building codes generally disallow tall wood structures. The Timber Innovation Act seeks to change that situation by funding competitive research on mass timber technology at institutions of higher learning and by making funds available for a tall wood building competition and a wood innovation program for retrofitting sawmills in areas where there is high unemployment.

The pending legislation expands upon a federal program that established an earlier U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, which in 2015 awarded $3 million to support the construction of two such structures. One was Framework, a 12-story mixed-use building in Portland, Oregon, designed by LEVER Architecture, which is due to break ground this summer. The other was 475 West 18th Street, designed by SHoP Architects, an upscale residential building project near the High Line that was shelved in early March, reportedly in response to a market downturn for high-end properties.

Getting government sponsored research funding was critical to defraying added expenses associated with the extensive testing and research necessary to secure local building department approvals for building wood structures more than six stories, according to Thomas Robinson, founding principal of LEVER Architecture. “Whenever you are doing something for the first time it is more complicated,” he said, noting that a critical aspect of his project was demonstrating that exposed CLT and glulam can achieve a two-hour fire-resistant rating.

Given the increasing environmental concerns over the widespread use of steel and concrete, mass timber promises to be a more palatable alternative. “What the Timber Innovation Act does is make this an even playing field,” Organschi said. “We have these vast forest reserves which are not being utilized.… By using mass configurations of timber, we will get more carbon sequestration.”

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Temporary congressional spending plan does not fund border wall

To those architects itching to build President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall: Maybe try again in September. According to preliminary reports, a forthcoming $1 trillion congressional budget deal to fund the continued operation of the federal government will strike a blow to several of the President’s key campaign promises, leaving controversial proposals like funding a border wall between the United States and Mexico, a long-touted $1 trillion infrastructure package, and the threatened de-funding of so-called “sanctuary cities” unfulfilled. Instead, the bill includes roughly $1.5 billion in new border security spending earmarked mostly for repairs and technological upgrades of existing elements, among other items. That amount is far less than the roughly $70 billion needed, according to a recent report by Democratic staff of the U.S. Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The report, released last week in anticipation of this week’s contentious funding negotiations, is not kind to the wall effort and cites that the review process for proposals submitted in late March is already behind schedule. AZ Central reports that the estimated $70 billion would cover only the construction costs and does not include the cost of land acquisition along the border necessary in order to build the wall or the cost of maintenance for the structure once—really, if— it is built. The reported $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill is another short-term casualty of budgetary negotiations. The Hill reports that congressional leaders had originally planned to fund new infrastructure spending by imposing a reduced tax on companies that repatriate earnings currently held overseas back to the United States. The solution was thought to have bipartisan support, but those efforts seem to be falling apart: A recently-issued one-page tax reform outline presented by the President did not specify how the money would be spent and congressional Republicans fear Democratic support for the bill would falter due to grassroots political pressure aimed at stalling the President’s agenda. The forthcoming budget agreement, however, has maintained a certain amount of funding for mass transit initiatives in Democratic-leaning states, including $100 million of the requested $650 million needed to modernize and electrify California’s Caltrain network. The proposal also fulfills funding promises for two extensions of Los Angeles’s Purple Line subway extension, improvements for New York City’s L Train, and a new light rail extension in Denver, Colorado. Congressional leaders must pass their proposed spending bill by May 5th in order to avert a government shutdown. Budget negotiations will ramp back up again over the summer in advance of the start of the new fiscal year on September 6, 2017.
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The Saga Continues: Congress Rejects Funding for Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial

Despite earlier indications of progress, Frank Gehry's design for a planned Eisenhower Memorial continues to encounter stumbling blocks. In November the US Commission of Fine Arts asked Mr. Gehry to make eight revisions to the proposal, a request that was then echoed and amplified in January when Congress turned down the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's request for $51 million in funding, a denial that was accompanied by a message imploring the architect "to work with all constituencies—including Congress and the Eisenhower family—as partners in the planning and design process.” The plan's most prominent feature, large metallic tapestries depicting the landscape scenes from the former president's childhood Kansas upbringing, has also proved to be its greatest sticking point. Some have suggested that the modern and outsize screens, coupled with the overall scale of the site, are not in keeping with Ike's humble and traditional image. The design has produced enough indignation in some circles that the National Civic Art Society launched a new competition for the commission courting more classically conceived memorials. Others have responded negatively to the narrative painted by the memorial, suggesting that the emphasis on the man's childhood found in the tapestries and many of the accompanying relief sculptures draw attention away from his later achievements as a public figure. Many of Eisenhower's family-members have been particularly vocal in their opposition to Gehry's vision. The closed process involved in the architect's initial selection for the project has come under fire for being undemocratic. The budget attached to the design has done little to assuage doubters, and Congress' leaves the Memorial Commission with $30 million in the bank for a structure estimated to cost over four times that amount. Though Gehry is to have responded to the CFA's request for adjustments, Congress was not impressed with the re-designs that bear a very close resemblance to their controversial predecessors. Some see more than a hint of ego in Gehry's stubbornness; an unnamed official affiliated with the Memorial claimed the largely unchanged plans reflected "tremendous arrogance." Responding to the latest development Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation said, “To me this is very disappointing. It looks like tweaks here and there. It still means Gehry has not done what Congress asked him to do—to work with all the constituents, Congress, and the family.”
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Senators, Congresswoman Back National Park Status for Chicago's Pullman Neighborhood

Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly today announced their intention to introduce legislation that would make the Pullman Historic District Chicago’s first national park. Since last year, a movement to designate the South Side Pullman neighborhood a national park has gained momentum. Its historic building stock—full of Romanesque and Victorian Queen Anne style buildings by architect Solon Spencer Beman and landscape architect Nathan F. Barrett — was lauded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust's president, Stephanie Meeks, cheered today’s announcement in a press release:
While the Trust has long supported these preservation efforts at Pullman, we are announcing today that we have named it our newest National Treasure. National Treasures are a portfolio of highly-significant historic places throughout the country where the National Trust makes a long-term commitment to finding a preservation solution. Working with the National Parks Conservation Association and many other partners, the Trust is pledging to stay involved until Pullman receives the recognition it so richly deserves.
George Pullman train-car empire birthed the planned industrial town that bears his name during the 1880s. After Pullman died in 1897,  the city of Chicago annexed the town. It averted demolition a few times during the 20th century, eventually gaining National, State and City landmark status in 1972. National Park status could bestow additional protections and make it easier for preservation groups in the area to get funding and assistance, in addition to a boost in tourism.
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New York City Rep Velázquez Announces Bill to Improve & Protect Waterfront

Taking the podium at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City Representative Nydia M. Velázquez introduced new legislation, called the "Waterfront of Tomorrow Act," to protect and fortify New York City's 538-miles of coastline. The bill would instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with an in-depth plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation, update the ports, and implement flood protection measures. Sandwiched between Red Hook Container Terminal and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, a large residential development, the pier was an appropriate place for the Congresswoman to announce legislation that addresses the city's needs to bolster its shipping industry while also taking steps to mitigate flooding and ensure the resiliency and sustainability of its residential neighborhoods, parkland, and businesses. "I think the part [of the bill] that was the most exciting was about protecting New York City from future floods, and most importantly talked about hard and soft solutions. Different parts of NYC will need different solutions," said Rick Bell, Executive Director for AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture. "This whole announcement talked about multifaceted approach." The bill is divided into four sections that propose flood protection and resiliency measures, a national freight policy, and "Green Port" designations and a grant program to promote the environmental sustainability of the shipping ports. The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will be charged with coming up with a strategy to protect the waterfront from severe weather patterns and rising tides, including tide gates, oyster reef restoration, and wetland restoration. "Whether it is commerce, recreation, transportation, or our local environment, New Yorkers' lives are inextricably linked to the water that surrounds us," Velázquez said at the announcement. "Investing in our ports, coasts and waterfronts can improve our City and local communities." The timing of this bill is up in the air, but it will likely enter the conversation in September when Congress returns from the August District Work Period to discuss new legislation aimed at enhancing the nation's waterways.
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Congress Meets to Consider New Bill Seeking to Eject Gehry's Design of the Eisenhower Memorial

Congress held a hearing today to discuss the funding and controversial design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial designed by Frank Gehry. Representative Rob Bishop is leading the charge with a new bill that aims to oust Gehry from the $142 million project and hold a new competition to find a more “appropriate” design. The Washington Post reported that the main gripe is over the massive metal tapestries encompassing the memorial, which would display images of Eisenhower’s early childhood in Kansas. The Eisenhower family has expressed that the grandiose scale of the design, specifically the tapestries, is out of touch with the former president’s character. Architect magazine live tweeted that there were few defenders of Gehry's memorial at the hearing except for Rep. Holt, and a fair share of confusion over what this bill entails and ultimately means for the future of the memorial.
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A Boost in Federal Funds Expedite Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts

Now that Congress has passed the $51 billion emergency aid package, Mayor Bloomberg is forging ahead with the recovery plans. The City will set aside $1.77 billion in federal funds dedicated to rebuilding homes, businesses, public housing and infrastructure that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Bloomberg did, however, warn that it could likely take a few months for the programs “to be approved and implemented.” Since the storm, the city, in conjunction with FEMA, has helped homeowners in New York through its Rapid Repairs Program. In a press conference last week, Bloomberg announced that the city will create a $350 grant program to help owners of single-family homes rebuild residences that bore the brunt of the storm, and another $250 million dedicated to “enhance the resiliency” of multi-family housing units. New York City’s public housing sustained considerable damage during the storm, which resulted in up to $785 million in damage to 257 buildings in 32 housing developments. NYCHA will receive $120 million in aid to repair and prepare buildings for future storms by taking measures such as purchasing permanent emergency generators. The city will also provide $100 million in grants to over 1,000 businesses affected by the storm. Businesses will be able to obtain loans of up to $150,000 and grants as large as $60,000.  An additional $140 million will be spent on efforts to help build infrastructure for utilities and to jumpstart economic activity in the five business zones that are located in vulnerable areas.