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Hearings to open Statue of Liberty

Congressmember Anthony Weiner announced that congressional hearings on the management of the Statue of Liberty would begin Wednesday, September 18 in Washington.
Weiner made the announcement after touring the Statue’s crown, which remains closed since the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001.
In July, Weiner sponsored legislation to provide the National Parks Service (NPS), which oversees the Statue of Liberty, with $1 million in funding to reopen the crown. The funding passed in both houses, but NPS has not budged from its decision to keep Lady Liberty closed for security reasons.
“[NPS] has repeatedly ignored the will of Congress,” said Weiner in a statement issued Monday, September 10. The Statue of Liberty is the only national park that remains completely closed since the attacks.
Despite the fact that the Statue’s base, pedestal and observation deck were reopened in 2004, NPS’ decision to keep Liberty’s crown closed has damaged New York City’s economy, said Weiner. Since the closure, Lady Liberty has lost 40.8 percent of its visitors - or roughly 2.24 million people.
The congressional hearings beginning next week will examine NPS’ management technique, as well as its decision not to open the crown. The hearings are the result of a 3-year investigation conducted by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), a non-partisan investigative division of Congress.
In 2004, Weiner reached out to GAO to look into the fundraising practices of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The Foundation claimed to be working in partnership with NPS to raise the funding necessary to reopen Liberty, but GAO’s investigation found that the statue remained closed, even after sufficient funds had been raised.
Hearings will be chaired by Arizona Congressmember Paul M. Grijalva, Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
Representatives from NPS did not immediately return phone calls.
“It shouldn’t just be Congressmembers that get to enjoy the thrill of gazing at the New York City skyline through the iconic crown,” said Weiner. “These hearings will finally allow us to get some answers.”

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