Leading members of Congress are worried about keeping the U.S. Capitol building bright and shiny over the years and not having enough money to do it. They've come up with an excellent idea of using private funds to help with the preservation.
The marble, the bronze, the artworks and the sandstone are all subject to heavy wear and tear because the Capitol is perhaps the nation's premier tourist attraction as well as the place of business for Congress. Some 15 million visitors a year go through the place.Congressional leaders recently held a breakfast meeting and agreed to establish the U.S. Capitol Preservation Fund. They want to persuade private citizens and corporations to do for the Capitol what such contributors already have done for the White House, the American collection at the State Department and at the newly refurbished Blair House, the president's guest house.
An estimated $1.5 million will be raised at a June 20 gala celebrating toe 200th anniversary of Congress. Money also will come from a 50 percent share of profits from sale of specially minted gold coins commemorating the bicentennial of Congress.
Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., the Senate's president pro tem, says the fund will be a bicentennial "gift to the nation" from Congress.
That's all well and good. But while all the restoring and cleaning of the Capitol is going on, why not an even better gift - clean up what goes on inside the building as well?