A Republican lawmaker who voted for a budget measure that set up the government shutdown confronted a park ranger to ask why a particular portion of the government was shut down.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) asked the U.S. Park Service Ranger why she was keeping out most tourists from the World War II Memorial, although veterans have been permitted to go inside.
“How do you look at them and deny them access?” Neugebauer said, with an American flag tucked into his lapel pocket.
The ranger told Neugebauer, who voted Sunday with most House Republicans to delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act while funding the federal government, that it was difficult to keep out tourists.
The congressman told the ranger it should be difficult, and he suggested Park Service employees should be ashamed of themselves.
“I’m not ashamed,” the ranger said, and a crowd of onlookers joined the confrontation.
“This woman is doing her job, just like me,” a bicyclist said. “I’m a 30-year federal veteran, (and) I’m out of work.”
Neugebauer blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for the shutdown, but the bicyclist said it was the government’s fault for not passing a budget.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint against Neugebauer on Friday, saying his conduct was inconsistent with House rules.
Access to the memorial and other monuments in Washington, D.C., has become a political flashpoint after the government shut down Tuesday.
Two other House Republicans who voted for the budget measure rejected by the Senate, as promised, opened a barricade to the World War II Memorial to a group of veterans who’d arrived Tuesday morning as part of an Honor Flight visit.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) complained that House Republicans were trying to fund parts of the government they liked, such as the memorial, through smaller bills instead of voting on a comprehensive package that didn’t include a provision on Obamacare.
“They took hostages by shutting down the government,” Pelosi said. “Now they’re releasing one hostage at a time.”
The conservative Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request related to the order to close the memorial, and the Republican National Committee chairman offered to cover costs to keep the memorial open.
A White House spokesman said Tuesday that the Interior Department would permit World War II veterans inside the memorial grounds, and an Honor Flight spokesman said the park service had “bent over backward” to accommodate them.
[Updated at 1:30 p.m. Friday to include information about CREW’s ethics complaint.]