Dems Mock GOP Outrage Over Shutdown Closures

Darrell Issa listens during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, which he chairs, on Thursday, April 14, 2011.
National Journal
Alex Brown
Add to Briefcase
Alex Brown
Oct. 16, 2013, 8:39 a.m.

Mem­bers of Con­gress seemed to chan­nel Cold­play Wed­nes­day dur­ing a House hear­ing on the shut­down’s ef­fects. “Nobody said it was easy,” went the Demo­crat­ic mes­sage. Countered Re­pub­lic­ans: “No one ever said it would be this hard.”

At is­sue were pub­lic land clos­ures by the Na­tion­al Park Ser­vice that Re­pub­lic­ans have de­scribed as polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated. Even the name of the hear­ing — “As Dif­fi­cult As Pos­sible” — car­ried the GOP mes­sage of un­ne­ces­sary hard­ship caused by NPS de­cisions. The joint hear­ing was con­vened by the Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee and the Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee.

“The Park Ser­vice “¦ [should] nev­er al­low it­self to be sub­jec­ted to polit­ic­al in­flu­ence,” said House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Chair­man Dar­rell Issa, R-Cal­if. “Yet it ap­pears today the Park Ser­vice lead­er­ship is no longer liv­ing up to that man­date.”

NPS Dir­ect­or Jonath­an Jar­vis had the un­en­vi­able task of re­spond­ing to Issa and oth­ers who de­man­ded an­swers for a host of the agency’s spe­cif­ic clos­ures. He de­fen­ded them as ne­ces­sary un­der shut­down pro­ced­ure, de­clin­ing to wade in­to the polit­ic­al blame game over who is re­spons­ible for the shut­down. Per­haps that’s be­cause Demo­crats did it for him.

“We’re 15 days in­to a gov­ern­ment shut­down, and now Re­pub­lic­ans want to in­vest­ig­ate why the gov­ern­ment is shut down,” said Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Peter De­Fazio of Ore­gon. Oth­er Demo­crats asked Re­pub­lic­ans what they ex­pec­ted would hap­pen when they shut down the gov­ern­ment, but De­Fazio took it a step fur­ther. “I will demon­strate who’s re­spons­ible,” he said, hold­ing up a mir­ror to face his GOP col­leagues.

Jar­vis said the Park Ser­vice gave no or­ders, nor re­ceived any from the White House, to make shut­down clos­ures in­ten­tion­ally pain­ful or vis­ible. Much-cri­tiqued clos­ures of monu­ments such as the World War II Me­mori­al were not without reas­on, he said. “There’s a lot of talk about open-air me­mori­als that are un­manned,” he said. “They are not un­oc­cu­pied. My re­spons­ib­il­ity is to keep them pro­tec­ted 24 hours a day.”¦ It pains us to not be able to in­vite the Amer­ic­an pub­lic in­to their na­tion­al parks.”

Some Demo­crats poin­ted to the green paint splattered on the Lin­coln Me­mori­al this sum­mer, say­ing such in­cid­ents could es­cal­ate if monu­ments were left open with no NPS rangers to provide se­cur­ity.

That didn’t sat­is­fy Re­pub­lic­ans, who said earli­er gov­ern­ment shut­downs did not in­flict such pain­ful con­sequences. Former NPS Deputy Dir­ect­or Denis Galv­in called that se­lect­ive memory. “Yes, Lin­coln and Jef­fer­son were bar­ri­caded,” he said. “The much-dis­cussed World War II Me­mori­al did not ex­ist then, but if it had, I think we would have bar­ri­caded it.”

Jar­vis also pushed back on news re­ports that quoted a ranger who said NPS em­ploy­ees were in­struc­ted to make clos­ures pain­ful. “I have no idea where that in­form­a­tion came from. That’s hearsay,” he said. “I’m in com­mu­nic­a­tion with my em­ploy­ees — the ones who are still at work — and they do not be­lieve that.”

Keep­ing the parks open, Jar­vis said, would have been a vi­ol­a­tion of the An­ti­de­fi­ciency Act, which pre­vents op­er­a­tions without ap­pro­pri­ated fund­ing. Rep. Rob Bish­op, R-Utah, re­spon­ded that erect­ing bar­ri­cades “cre­ated a new ob­lig­a­tion with no new threat,” it­self a vi­ol­a­tion of the act.

Over­sight Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Eli­jah Cum­mings, D-Md., lamen­ted that ar­gu­ments over the World War II Me­mori­al dis­trac­ted from ser­i­ous shut­down prob­lems, like delayed vet­er­ans’ be­ne­fits. Oth­er Demo­crats were more than con­tent to mock the GOP for its out­rage over the park clos­ures. “Blam­ing the Na­tion­al Park Ser­vice for the clos­ure of the parks is like vot­ing for cap­it­al pun­ish­ment and then blam­ing the hang­man,” said Del­eg­ate Elean­or Holmes Norton, D-D.C.

What We're Following See More »
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
18 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
ANTI-MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Trump Chooses Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr CEO as Labor Sec
21 hours ago
BREAKING
BUCKING THE BOSS?
Trump Cabinet Full of TPP Supporters
21 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"President-elect Donald Trump railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his way to winning the White House and has vowed immediately to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation accord. Several of his cabinet picks and other early nominees to top posts, however, have endorsed or spoken favorably about the trade pact, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, announced Wednesday as Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Department of Defense."

Source:
WWE WRESTLING OWNER
Trump to Nominate Linda McMahon to Head SBA
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login