Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sen. Tom Coburn Rejects Funding For WTC Museum

Funding for the WTC Museum and Memorial has been a longstanding problem. This is a national memorial and shrine to those who were killed in the attacks, and a museum to educate future generations as to what happened. So it is extremely disappointing to see that Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican is blocking a $20 million funding proposal of the WTC memorial and museum.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, is blocking $20 million a year in annual taxpayer funding for the National September 11 Memorial.

“The legislation creates a permanent duplicative federal funding stream for a privately operated facility,” Coburn wrote in a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell. “The museum has received more than $75 million in federal assistance over the past two years and remains eligible to apply for additional funds from a variety of federal programs if necessary. Yet, this legislation authorizes at least $200 million over the next ten years for the effort, but does not include any provision to pay for these potential costs, adding to our more than $15 trillion debt.”

Almost 2 million people from around the world have visited the Memorial since it opened on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks. Coburn makes it clear he has no objection to the memorial and museum, just the annual federal funding.

“The events of September 11 hold a special place in our nation’s history and in each of our hearts,” Coburn wrote. “The national and personal significance of this tragic day has been, and continue to be, appropriately memorialized and remembered.”

“A full accounting of previously awarded federal funding, as well as detailed breakdown of the project with itemized cost estimates, would be useful for learning more about current sources of funding, and potential need for this legislation,” Coburn wrote.
Funding should be made available for the National 9/11 memorial. This is the site of the nation's worst terrorist attacks.

Coburn can qualify his comments any way he wants, but the bottom line is that he's blocking funding for the the memorial and museum funding.

All this isn't to say that the memorial and museum could not be more efficiently managed; it hasn't. Compensation for officials at the Memorial Foundation have soared and cost controls are sorely needed. However, if the choice is between imposing fees to access the memorial and the museum or finding federal funding to cover operating costs, this should be funded.

This is something I've written about in the past - if fees need to be imposed to cover costs at the museum and memorial, it should be imposed on parking fees for tour buses and cars (an additional fee could be imposed on parking garages in Lower Manhattan and on tour buses that deliver tourists to the area).

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