N.C. Congressman Blocks Flight 93 Memorial
By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer Tue Apr 25, 6:49 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Family members of those killed on United Flight 93 are urging a North Carolina congressman to lift his hold on funding for a memorial planned for the Pennsylvania site where the plane crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Nearly a dozen family members are scheduled to meet with their members of Congress on Wednesday to encourage them to sign a letter that asks Rep. Charles H. Taylor (news, bio, voting record), R-N.C., to support $10 million for the project.
It was not clear if they would also meet with Taylor.
Taylor, chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department, has blocked millions in funding for the project in the last two years, and has expressed opposition to funding it when it comes up again before his committee May 3, said John Scofield, the House Appropriations Committee spokesman.
The White House has requested $5 million for the nearly 1,700-acre site in remote western Pennsylvania as part of a larger spending bill.
Hamilton Peterson, president of Families of Flight 93, said Tuesday he is confident the issue can be resolved.
"He still has time to act, so I'm extremely hopeful that he will share the patriotic views that we have relative to honoring and memorializing the courageous acts as now affirmed by the release of the cockpit recorder," Peterson said.
Taylor issued a three-page statement Tuesday in which he expressed concern about the project's size and cost.
He said he and a Pennsylvania congressman, whom he did not identify by name, had worked out a cost-sharing arrangement under which the state of Pennsylvania would make a large donation, but "to my knowledge, the state of Pennsylvania has not appropriated any funds."
"What we do not want to do is embarrass the country or the families of those aboard Flight 93 with a memorial that is only partially funded," Taylor said.
Kate Philips, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, said Tuesday the state has committed $10 million to the project and $250,000 has already been awarded.
The Washington Post first reported on the issue Tuesday.
Earlier this month, during the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, cockpit recordings were released that vividly revealed the struggle between passengers and hijackers — confirming what had been described in the official 9/11 Commission report.
Some of the family members were expected to fly to Washington from New York where the movie "United 93" was premiering Tuesday night at the Tribeca Film Festival. Trailers for the movie encourage people to donate to the Flight 93 Memorial Fund, and 10 percent of proceeds from the movie go to the memorial.
The flight was en route to San Francisco from Newark, N.J., when it was brought down near Shanksville, Pa. The 33 passengers, seven crew members and four hijackers on board died.
The memorial is estimated to cost nearly $58 million — $30 million of which is to be raised by private donations. Of the $30 million, about $7.5 million has been raised since a fundraising campaign started last year, according to a memorial spokeswoman.
The project is backed by Rep. Bill Shuster (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., whose district includes the crash site.
Congressman Taylor better hope the appropriations bill goes through without any trouble.