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October 04, 2013

GOP Congressman Votes for Government Shutdown, Then Berates Park Ranger


Of all the avoidable consequences of the government shutdown -- a ruined wedding, a stranded T-Rex, and so many more -- this one might be the most absurd. On Wednesday, as the government moved into its second day of shutdown, Republican Representative Randy Neugebauer (TX), who was among those in Congress who refused to vote for routine legislation that would keep our government open, publicly demanded that a Park Ranger apologize for the impossible circumstances of the shutdown as she tried to do her job at the World War II memorial. You read that right: a Republican Congressman who voted for the shutdown demanded that a Park Ranger apologize for it.

You can see the video captured by NBC Washington and reported by Gawker here.

The World War II memorial, along with all other memorials and national parks, was closed to the public because of the government shutdown that House Republicans like Neugebauer forced. After they refused to pass routine legislation to fund the government without toxic political riders, government functions deemed "non-essential" shut down Tuesday.

Even though the memorial is officially closed to the public, Park Service rangers have been allowing World War II vets to enter the memorial. But the rangers haven't allowed the rest of the public to enter the space. And even though Neugebauer is part of the reason the facility is closed in the first place, he decided to open his mouth and make a scene about the situation.

Its a shameful example of politics at its worst: one of the legislators who forced the shutdown to occur trying to pass the blame onto the people whom his actions directly affected. And Neugebauer admitted in an interview on Tuesday that he wants to continue the shutdown "as long as it takes" to extract toxic political concessions.

It-s easy for him to say. Neugebauer and his colleagues in Congress are among the few who can still collect a paycheck from the federal government, unlike hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been furloughed, sent home from their jobs without pay -- including 9 out of 10 employees at the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, everything from Head Start programs to critical research facilities to firefighting capacity to our parks, forests, and refuges are crippled by his inaction.

When Neugebauer starts looking around for people who need to apologize, the first place he should look is in the mirror.

-- Athan Manuel, Director, Sierra Club Lands Protection Program

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