Republicans are keeping tourists from the grandeur of Yosemite — on its 123rd birthday, no less. Democrats are preventing World War II veterans from visiting their own memorial. No one, it seems, can agree on if or how to fund the government or who’s to blame for the shutdown, but everyone wants credit for defending your right to go to the park.
Thanks to the shutdown, all national parks are closed, and they have become perhaps the foremost example of a dysfunctional government’s cost to the average citizen.
At the World War II Memorial, dozens of veterans barged through barriers Tuesday to visit their states’ pillars. Among those claiming credit for helping the heroes access their tribute site: Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., Steve King, R-Iowa, and Steven Palazzo, R-Miss. Most Republicans at the site blamed Senate Democrats for the memorial’s closure. The National Republican Congressional Committee took it a step further, sending out an email list-building petition that used the veterans to blame Democrats.
Republicans aren’t the only ones who have found parks politically potent. “Yosemite National Park is lonely on its 123rd birthday, thanks to the #GOPShutdown,” tweeted Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. The Democratic Party issued its own blame to the GOP for Yosemite’s closure.
As the shutdown fight drags on, it seems likely parks will remain at the center of the battle. The House is set to vote on a bill to restore funding to the national parks, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Senate Democrats seem unlikely to accept any measure except full government funding, so expect another round of the blame game when the House measure dies in the upper chamber.
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"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
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.
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.