PROVIDING NEW EFFECTIVE DATE FOR APPLICABILITY OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF LAW TO PUBLIC LAW 105-331 -- (House of Representatives - November 15, 2006)
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, let me thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but particularly the gentleman from Massachusetts for all his help in bringing this to the floor in such a timely fashion. Without his help, we certainly wouldn't be here today. And I also want to say that I look forward to when he is the chairman of the Financial Services Committee in the next congress. I introduced this bill with the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) and my colleague from New Jersey (Mr. Frelinghuysen) to allow the Edison Memorial Tower Corporation additional time to raise funds to match a Federal grant.
The Edison Memorial Tower, in my district, is a 131-foot tower built in 1937 on the exact spot where Thomas Edison's original Menlo Park laboratory was located in New Jersey. And I think you know this was the place where the electric light bulb and so many inventions were made by Thomas Edison. The Tower was built to commemorate Edison's work and is connected to a museum displaying many of the inventor's creations.
Unfortunately, the Tower has suffered more than $3 million worth of water damage. The Edison Memorial Tower Corporation, which oversees the Tower, was designated as the recipient of Federal funds under the Thomas Alva Edison Commemorative Coin Act, which passed in 1998. That funding became available at the beginning of last year, but required a non-Federal match. After reading a document published by the Mint, the Tower Corporation originally thought they could use State funds to pay for the match. Unfortunately, they were informed recently by the U.S. Mint that they could only use funds raised from private sources.
Once they realized this, the Tower Corporation approached me for help, since they were faced with the need to raise more than $300,000 by December 31 of this year, the statutory deadline. That is why I introduced this bill, which simply extends the deadline by 6 months to give them adequate time to raise private funds. The Board of the Tower Corporation has assured me, as well as Chairman Oxley and Ranking Member Frank, that they will be able to raise the necessary funds in 6 months and they would not request another extension.
Mr. Speaker, Thomas Edison's contributions to our society are too numerous to count, but by developing the modern light bulb, he is one of America's most recognized thinkers and inventors. The Memorial Tower helps celebrate his achievements and salutes the spirit of innovation that he fostered. This bill is critical to making sure that the Memorial Tower can be repaired and serve not only as memorial to a great man but also as a symbol of America's potential for technological innovation and achievement.
I want to again express my thanks to Chairman Oxley and Ranking Member Frank for their willingness to move this bill, and for the leadership on both sides of the aisle for putting it on the suspension calendar.
I also want to particularly thank Jamie Lizarraga, on the minority staff of the Financial Services Committee, for his diligence and very hard work to move this bill forward. Joe Pinder and Tom Duncan of Chairman Oxley's staff were also quite helpful, and of course, Eric Gordon of my own staff, here on the left. I want to thank them all.
Mr. Speaker, this bill will go a long way towards ensuring that we can preserve an important landmark saluting a great American.