Now You Know What a Federal Government Shutdown Means

Update: There are a number of reports that the Obama administration is playing politics with the NPS closures by pushing administrators to make it as difficult as possible for the general public to access certain sites. This piece by The Washington Times is typical. One unknown source is cited, but that’s about it. This interview with Jon Jarvis, director of the NPS is very clear about why these drastic steps are necessary.

There are employees that pick up the trash. There are employees that clean the restrooms. There’s employees that provide protection against vandalism. Some of these sites are potential targets for vandalism or terrorism. And so, I’ve had to furlough most of those employees. I furloughed, as a result of no appropriation, 21,000 employees of the National Park Service. And so we are down to just a – essentially a skeleton crew of enforcement officers that provide just the very basics of security. I can’t leave them open and accept that kind of impact. That’s – that violates my responsibilities to the American people as the steward of these places.

Like many of you, my blood pressure went through the roof after watching this video. At first I was convinced that it was a piece from The Onion. I viewed it twice all the while trying to comprehend how Texas Republican Congressman, Randy Neugebauer, could justify berating a National Park Service employee for having to manage a very difficult situation that his own party created. Is it possible that this jackass didn’t understand that the  shutdown of the federal government includes the NPS?

I have nothing but the utmost respect for the work that the National Park Service does across this country and it breaks my heart that they (along with many others) have to suffer for absolutely no reason. Thanks to this dedicated NPS employee for standing her ground in the face of this silly man.

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26 comments… add one
  • pat young Oct 6, 2013 @ 3:55

    The House NPS funding bill is a publicity ploy. “We’ll shut down the Federal government, except for those things that get us bad publicity.” Two of my friends who monitor environmental toxins are sitting home right now. Why don’t the Republicans include them?

    • Kevin Levin Oct 6, 2013 @ 3:58

      Yes and my wife can’t help but wonder about the good folks who approve scientific research grants – research that will impact all of us in the future.

  • Matt McKeon Oct 5, 2013 @ 14:03

    I’ve got to disagree with you, Al. One side of the “aisle” voted for the government shutdown. And it isn’t “shutdown the government: except for the parts that look bad politically.” The tourist sites are the first thing to be reopened? Certainly puts cancer therapy in perspective, or WIC.

    As far as the congressman is concerned: Christ, what an asshole.

  • M.D. Blough Oct 5, 2013 @ 7:19

    I wish to be quite clear on this: there are many issues on which I do not hold the Democratic Party blameless. As a lifelong Democrat, I have had far too many times when I’ve had to quote Will Rogers and say, “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” However, this government shutdown is a very specific tactic by a small but powerful group within the House and Senate Republicans who have been permitted to dictate what the party will do, particularly in the House. They have major funding behind them and have the weapon, potentially lethal even against colleagues in absolutely safe Republican districts, of recruiting and funding challengers to them in the primaries.

  • Al Mackey Oct 5, 2013 @ 7:01

    Both sides of the aisle are to blame. The Republicans in the House passed a bill to fund the NPS, but Harry Reid won’t allow it to pass in the Senate, and if it did the President will veto it. I’m sure several folks can give us chapter and verse as to what the Republicans did to bring this about, but those who only blame one side are not giving an accurate picture.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 5, 2013 @ 7:03

      Good point, Al, but it seems to me that we never should have ended up here in the first place. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward.

    • M.D. Blough Oct 5, 2013 @ 7:10

      For once Al and Kevin, I couldn’t disagree with you more. The Republicans have made it clear that the cost of passing a continuing resolution for even the shortest period of time is to agree to a Republican agenda that cannot pass Congress and was rejected in the last Presidential election. And what will happen when THAT CR expires? Once extortion succeeds, that’s the modus operandi. What the Republicans are attempting is funding a few of the more PR sensitive items in the hopes of diverting attention from what they are doing. As much as I love the National Park System and Service, I am not willing to do the harm to others that going along with this diversionary tactic would do. There are some issues where the price of peace is too high; it’s surrender.

  • Neil Hamilton Oct 4, 2013 @ 21:14


    Saw the same thing myself on the news and could barely repress expoding at the idiot. The Park Ranger said it best, she had nothing to be ashamed of, but then, she wasn’t playing to the crowd or the cameras.


  • grandadfromthehills Oct 4, 2013 @ 18:53

    I am with the defunding the ACA – it is poorly thought out and needs something workable in place. The shutdown of such parks is silly. However, I would gladly like to see the whole lot thrown out and a new group put in with 12 year limits. To lay this at the conservatives feet alone is a undefendable position.

    Sam Vanderburg
    TX – while it is still USA and I hope it stays that way!

    • Patrick Young Oct 5, 2013 @ 2:20

      Sam, without getting into the merits of any laws, I support immigration reform, but I don’t call upon Democrats to shut down the Federal government as a way to achieve my goal.

    • Kevin Levin Oct 5, 2013 @ 2:28

      I am with the defunding the ACA – it is poorly thought out and needs something workable in place.

      One of the wonderful things about our system of government is that we have the opportunity to revise our laws. This isn’t the way to go about it. Thankfully, we now go about doing just that re: the ACA as millions of people enjoy the benefits of healthcare for the first time.

    • M.D. Blough Oct 5, 2013 @ 5:33

      Just ask yourself what your reaction would be if the Democrats pulled this stunt in regards to a piece of Republican legislation that had withstood, regardless of its flaws, the full legislative process, a test through to the Supreme Court, and a presidential election in which it was a major issue as it was in some critical Senatorial elections. Many of the “flaws” were concessions that were made during the legislative process to the very people who, despite many of their demands having been met during the legislative process, still are trying to destroy it. As Kevin said, the legislative process is there to fix flaws. However, the law is in its early stages. Many feared flaws may turn out not to be serious issues and some issues not anticipated may need fixing. Instead, the Republicans are willing to interfere with the operation of the government and put the full faith and credit of the government of the United States in doubt.

      The law is not perfect. I would have liked to see single payer, the model for Social Security and the VA, but, at least the public option. Instead, we have another payday for private insurance companies (who at least are under some constraints on how much they can divert to themselves). I will work to get at least the public option some day, but I would never sanction this destructiveness to get my way. That isn’t negotiation. It’s extortion.

      • MartinF Oct 5, 2013 @ 20:29

        Interesting that you should mention “Just ask yourself what your reaction would be if the Democrats pulled this stunt in …..” and I think back to the days when in spite of not winning a majority of votes in a state his brother was the governor of and his campaign manager was in charge of the vote counting, and a flawed appeal to a court in which the justices whom his father appointed voted him in as president when anyone would criticize or question the validity of all this the most common response was (before he was even inaugurated) “hey, it’s settled, JUST GET OVER IT.” One is tempted to respond with the same elementary playground logic. This was debated, legislated, a presidential election was held, supreme court decision and on and on thus I think all that answers your question of …what the reaction would be if the roles were reversed. The shutdown is sickening. This is not how the minority party should operate in our government.

  • Rob Baker Oct 4, 2013 @ 18:25


    Here is the letter to Neugebauer, from retired NPS director John J. Reynolds.

    Congressman Randy Neugebauer
    Texas – 19th District
    1424 Longworth HOB
    Washington, DC 20515

    Dear Representative Neugebauer,

    I am a retired 36 year career employee of the National Park Service. I was Deputy DIrector of the Service in Washington, DC during the 1995-96 government shut down.

    I have seen the video of the manner in which you treated a park ranger at the WWII Memorial. I was appalled at the manner in which you, an elected official, treated a young woman who was only doing her job as a result of a shutdown of government services.

    She did not make the decision. She had nothing to do with making the decision. She was only following the orders she had been given. She was polite, professional and non-confrontational. Yet you chose to attack her.

    It is you, Congressman Neugebauer, who should be ashamed. Is there no lowest level of decency which you bring to your Constitutionally created job?

    That ranger, a public servant, deserves a personal and public apology from you.

    Are you man enough to give her one?

    The National Park Service, the nation and every citizen should be proud that she has chosen to dedicate her life to service to the American people, and showed unusual aplomb in the face of a very difficult situation while being bullied by a very powerful man.


    John J. Reynolds

    cc: Theresa Pierno, Acting President, National Park Conservation Association
    Maureen Finnerty, Chairperson, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
    Jon Jarvis, Director, National Park Service
    Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior
    John Boehner, Majority Leader, House of Representatives

    • Kevin Levin Oct 5, 2013 @ 2:13

      Thanks for sharing this. Glad to see that the NPS responded to this ridiculous incident.

  • Jim (Vet/Army/30 years) Oct 4, 2013 @ 17:58

    After watching the clip I believe the Congressman was wrong. However, his demeanor is no better than the Senate Majority leaders or the POTUS. They are all behaving in a less than satisfactory manner. Congress needs to comply with the expectations of the Constitution, budget conducted in a normal manner, no more CRA’s and knock off all the political fire bombing. WRT to the National Mall and the monuments, these places should be open. They have been bought and paid for by the veterans of this nation through their blood, sweat and tears and should not be politicized. The OMB director should be ashamed for directing their closure and putting the NPS personnel in the crossfire. In past government impasses, they stayed open. SHAME.

    • M.D. Blough Oct 5, 2013 @ 5:42

      Jim-It costs money to run all of these, including the salaries (small as they are) to the rangers and other personnel. They don’t run on blood,sweat, and tears, despite the deep respect we have for all of those. The determination has to be made as to what is the absolutely most critical in the event of a government shutdown like we see here. The same determinations were made during the Clinton Administration. Don’t blame the OMB Director. Blame the people who are using extortionate tactics to bully through changes to a law that they couldn’t get through the legislative, the judicial, and/or the elective process.

      • Jim Oct 7, 2013 @ 12:43


        Respectfully, “Blame the people who are using extortionate tactics to bully through changes to a law that they couldn’t get through the legislative, the judicial, and/or the elective process.”

        I do not share your sentiment with regard to the above statement. The bullying, internal deal making and extortion used to pass this law on the front end ignited the emotion we all now feel. That is a entirely different topic.

        Previous government shutdowns did not result in the closure of the national mall.

        Yes, it costs money to staff these sites. If the NPS is going to post their personnel on the mall to keep veterans away from veterans monuments, then open them up since they are there. When you view it this way and also understand that these great folks will be paid when this is resolved anyway, we should keep it open.

        I enjoy this blog immensely, so I hope you understand that we all do not feel the same with regard to this topic.

        Thanks for the reply and I hope a resolution is forthcoming shortly.


        Jim Glenn

        • M.D. Blough Oct 7, 2013 @ 15:02

          Please read the update with NPS Director Jarvis’ explanation. I was going to write something to that effect also. What you will be seeing right now are law enforcement rangers/park police, essentially the law enforcement branch of the NPS, there solely to maintain a bare bones level of security. You are not seeing the rangers of the interpretive branch or the administrative people or the volunteers who are so essential to the NPS .

          There is a big difference, BTW, between the normal legislative process, hardball as it can get, and shutting down the government.

          • Jim Glenn (@unreconspatriot) Oct 7, 2013 @ 18:05

            Harry Reid can get all back to work instead of obstructing. Its that simple really. Most of Government is working anyway, another 17% won’t hurt will it?

  • Al Mackey Oct 4, 2013 @ 17:40

    This guy is an idiot and a bully. Kudos to the ranger who was there doing her job. Let’s hope the people of this creep’s district stand up for her and give him a permanent furlough.

  • M.D. Blough Oct 4, 2013 @ 15:53

    The Republicans are saboteurs. OTOH, I was very proud of the NPS employee and the gentleman who supported her.

  • Ray Oct 4, 2013 @ 15:42

    Oh, and this guy voted for the shutdown.

    Just to put it out there, there are quite a lot of us Conservative Republicans who do not buy into a lot of this crud that they are doing. I for one would like to see a bill have one purpose and not have all this crap added to it like they seemed to like to do. I’d also like to see them just pass a simple continuing resolution or budget before Sunday.

    Civil Servant on the Sidelines Wondering How He’s Gonna Pay the Bills

    • Kevin Levin Oct 4, 2013 @ 16:46

      I don’t see this as a Republican vs Democrat standoff. Hang in there, my friend.

  • Marian Latimer Oct 4, 2013 @ 15:00

    I was a state civil servant for most of my career. I came in when I was sick and after a serious car accident. I also came back to work before my surgeon wanted me to after spinal surgery because I had a caseload I was concerned about. We didn’t get a raise for seven years, yet all I heard was how we lived off the fat of the land. Right. This clown shut down the government, not the NPS. I’ve seen this game before. It ends badly. I saw this sort of thing about health care on the job 30 years ago. Not pretty. People were dying then. Unnecessarily. This is a very, very sore subject with me. Very. Oh, I guess I did work for the Feds now that I think about it. LOL, I was a census supervisor for two years.

    I’m waiting for the torches and pitchforks to show up on Capitol Hill… any day now…

  • Patrick Young Oct 4, 2013 @ 14:26

    My dad was a life long civil servant at a time before Republicans vilified them. If these guys don’t want to run the government, they should step down.

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