ATLANTA, October 5, 2013 — Travelers looking to visit national parks or other federally managed sites are out of luck, thanks to the government shutdown.
But, forgive the travelers whose plans don’t call for a visit to a federally operated facility if they didn’t see the effects of the shutdown. That’s because many Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees are considered essential employees, so commercial air traffic has nary hit a snag.
“Travel plans may have to be curtailed,” Divya Raghavan, a senior analyst for NerdWallet, told Sightseers’ Delight. “Due to the government shutdown, national parks and museums are closed, so if you were planning on making it out to Yellowstone, the Smithsonian, the Grand Canyon or other national landmarks, you’ll have to reschedule. National landmarks will be closed indefinitely until the shutdown ends.
“For those looking to travel by plane, don’t worry,” Raghavan said. “TSA and airport officials are considered essential employees, so airlines will still be running. Trains and buses are still running as well.”
In Arizona, for example, businesses in the town of Tusayan and the town itself have offered to fund the operations of the Grand Canyon National Park. The state of Arizona has also offered to help, but the federal government declined.
“I appreciate the support and I thanked them for the offer, but it’s not an offer we can accept,” Fox News quoted park superintendent Dave Uberuaga as saying. “Bottom line, any third-party funding of the national park opening will not occur. This is a fundamental core operation of the federal government provided for by government appropriations by the U.S. Congress.”
The Republican-led House on Tuesday voted to fund national parks through the “Open Our National Parks and Museums Act.” The bill, likely dead in the Senate, would provide funding for national parks, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Funding would at the same level in effect at the end of the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 and would remain in place until Dec. 15 or until another appropriations bill or continuing resolution is approved.
“While we work to break through this budget impasse, let’s at least take steps to reduce the impact on those who have planned to visit our national parks and museums,” U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said in a statement. “This is a common sense measure that should receive bipartisan support, and I’m disappointed that my Democratic colleagues have chosen instead to keep these national treasures closed to the public.”
The fact that memorials are technically closed apparently hasn’t deterred many, according to published reports. On Tuesday, for example, World War II veterans stormed past barricades the feds set up to close the memorial.
“We have witnessed American families agonize over what parts of our country’s rich heritage they would be allowed to see and our nation’s WWII veterans have found themselves barricaded from the monument to their hard-earned achievements,” U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in a statement. “This is simply not right.”
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