Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced Wednesday that he would be willing to cover the cost of keeping the World War II memorial open in Washington, D.C., which was closed Tuesday as a result of the first federal government shutdown in nearly two decades.
“The Obama administration has decided they want to make the government shutdown as painful as possible, even taking the unnecessary step of keeping the Greatest Generation away from a monument built in their honor,” he said standing a few feet away from the barricaded memorial entrance.
“That’s not right, and it’s not fair,” he added. “So the RNC has put aside enough money to hire five security personnel to keep this memorial open to veterans and visitors. Ideally, I’d hope to hire furloughed employees for this job.”
Shortly before the RNC announcement, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the Interior Department was giving Honor Flight veterans a pass, providing access to the memorial in a way that is “consistent” with the shutdown.
Jeff Miller, the co-founder of the Honor Flight Network, applauded the National Park Service on Wednesday, saying officials “bent over backwards” to accommodate veterans.
The Democratic National Committee said they preferred opening all national parks — by voting on a clean resolution funding the government.
“We’ve already been working on a plan to open the Memorial — and the entire government — after the GOP caused them to close,” said DNC spokesman Mo Elleithee. “It’s called a clean funding resolution and it sounds like the votes are there if the Speaker would just call for a vote. It would save the economy a lot of money and get the Memorial and government open a whole lot faster.”
Update: The National Parks Service humbly declined.