Source AP ©

US Congress may reopen Statue of Liberty's crown

Members of the U.S. Congress will pressure federal parks officials to reopen the Statue of Liberty's crown to visitors.

"This hopefully is going to be the last year that Lady Liberty's crown is closed" for Independence Day, said Representative Anthony Weiner, adding that congressional hearings on the issue likely will be held this summer.

Visitors have been barred from the interior of the statue's body since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The National Park Service has said the narrow, 168-step spiral staircase is a fire hazard and a terror risk.

Weiner's announcement comes a week after the U.S. House passed an amendment, proposed by Weiner, giving the parks service $1 million (730,000 EUR) to study how to safely reopen the staircase to the statue's crown.

Last year, after passage of a similar bill, the park service said safety concerns did not permit it.

Telephone calls to a park service spokesman on Wednesday, the July Fourth holiday, were not immediately returned.

Between 2000 and 2005, the number of visitors to the statue dropped by more than one-fifth to 4.2 million a year.