U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R- Colo.) led a bicameral group of 21 U.S. Senators and 50 U.S. Representatives sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urging her to oppose a deal between the United Nations and New York that will allow the U.N. to purchase new land and build a second United Nations tower in New York. They also ask for a detailed analysis of the project's expenses and the anticipated financial implications for the United States federal government.
"We simply cannot afford unnecessary bureaucratic extravagances like this," Vitter said. "Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton once said that if the current U.N. building lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Unless the U.N. can explain to Congress why a second tower is necessary and why it has to be done now, this just seems like a huge waste of money. And I hope Secretary Clinton agrees with us and immediately takes the lead in opposing the project so U.S. taxpayers aren't on the hook for a large portion of the project." -- Senator David Vitter (R-LA)
"As Members of Congress, it is our job to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used wisely. I don't want the taxpayer stuck with an outrageous bill for extravagant spending by the U.N. The U.N. has not provided Congress with an explanation as to why this project is necessary or why it must be pursued in this time of budgetary crisis rather than at a later date. Until more details from the United Nations are disclosed, American taxpayers stand to lose. I urge Secretary Clinton to oppose this deal." -- Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
New York City has plans to sell the Robert Moses Playground, which is adjacent to the current UN building, to the organization for the purpose of building a second U.N. tower. According to news reports, the cost of constructing the new U.N. building is estimated to be between $370 million and $475 million. Renovations for the existing tower were estimated at $600 million but increased to more than $2 billion. Vitter, Lamborn and their colleagues believe the estimates for a second tower will significantly increase and the U.S. could be expected to pay 22 percent of the new project.
Joining Sen. Vitter and Rep. Lamborn's letter are; U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Mike Lee (R-Utah.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) as well as 50 members of the U.S. Representatives.
October 6, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
It has come to our attention that New York City is proceeding quickly with plans to sell the Robert Moses Playground, which is adjacent to the current United Nations building, to the organization for the purpose of building a second U.N. tower. We urge you to oppose this project and immediately request the U.N. to provide a detailed analysis of the project's expenses and the anticipated financial implications for the United States federal government.
According to news reports, the cost of constructing the new U.N. building is estimated to be between $370 million and $475 million. The cost of purchase of the playground from the city, the construction of the new building, and other associated expenses will likely be paid by member-states either through their payments to the U.N. regular budget or through a separate budget similar to that used to pay for the current renovation project under the Capital Master Plan. The U.S. will likely be expected to shoulder 22 percent of the increased expenses resulting from the project.
Moreover, it is likely that the cost of this project will be substantially higher than this estimate. As you know, the current renovation of the U.N. building was initially estimated at $600 million and has subsequently risen to more than $2 billion. Moreover, as we saw in 2010, the U.S. was expected to pay for $100 million in security related expenses above and beyond our contribution to the Capital Master Plan and would likely be asked to assume sole fiscal responsibility for security upgrades related to the new building.
In an editorial published in the New York Post on September 21, 2011, Meghan Clyne, managing editor of National Affairs, wrote "The question, however, is why US taxpayers would pay a dime toward this project At a time when we're hugely in debt, and the United Nations is busy pushing Palestinian statehood why should we fork over millions of dollars -- and a city park -- to make the United Nations' dream of nicer, more convenient offices come true?" Last year, U.S. taxpayers paid a record $7.7 billion to the United Nations, an organization long overdue for reform.
In a time of fiscal austerity, the United States cannot afford unnecessary extravagances. The U.N. has not provided Congress with an explanation as to why this project is necessary or why it must be pursued in this time of budgetary crisis rather than at a later date. Therefore, we urge you to oppose this deal and immediately request all relevant details, plans, and cost estimates related to the transfer of the playground to the U.N. and the construction of a new U.S. tower. We ask that you share that information with Congress so that we are able to determine the financial implications for American taxpayers.
Unfortunately, time is short. The New York legislation authorizing the deal requires the terms to be finalized by October 10, 2011. We look forward to your timely response.