Hangar One funding lost
Anti-earmark sentiment kills bill that included $8 million request from Rep. Eshoo
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo has declared dead an $8 million request for Hangar One, which means the icon's massive steel skeleton may be left bare when the Navy strips it of its PCB-laden siding this spring.
The $8 million earmark was in an omnibus appropriations bill that died due to lack of support from Senate Republicans, who had threatened to mount a filibuster to stop it.
"When the Omnibus died, the $8 million I was proud to secure for Hangar One died with it," Eshoo said in an e-mail Friday.
The defense appropriation, originally set at $10 million, had passed through a congressional defense subcommittee and was eagerly awaited by the community, where elected officials have overwhelmingly supported Hangar One's restoration. A fight to save the historic structure has been going on for over five years.
The Depression-era airship hangar has been caught in a wave of "anti-earmark" anger on the part of Republicans, said Lenny Siegel, an advocate for the preservation of Hangar One.
NASA, which took ownership of Hangar One from the Navy in 1994, has promised $20 million in funding to restore it, but the space agency was counting on the $8 million request to provide the last bit of funding needed. NASA's $20 million will not be enough to re-skin Hangar One, Siegel said.
Eshoo, however, remained optimistic.
"What encourages me is that (NASA) Administrator Bolden has given his commitment to me that he will preserve Hangar One," Eshoo wrote. "He has the authority to allocate NASA funds for the purpose of re-skinning."
NASA's official statement on the matter came from spokeswoman Rachel Hoover via e-mail: "Congresswoman Eshoo has been a staunch supporter on Hangar One, and NASA will continue to work with her on this issue. However, the lack of congressionally directed funding for this project makes this more of a challenge."
The Navy has already demolished much of Hangar One's internal structures in recent weeks as part of its obligation to clean up asbestos, PCBs and lead paint. The Navy is set to remove Hangar One's laminate Galbestos siding this spring.
Siegel said an effort is under way to raise funds to preserve the hangar's unique windows, which could cost $1.2 million to save. Some of the windows are corrugated and may not be replaceable. For more on that effort, visit airandspacewest.org.
E-mail Daniel DeBolt at firstname.lastname@example.org