Washington memorial – A shutdown battleground
Democrat and Republicans try to to deflect blame for the shutdown
A World War Two veteran tours the World War Two Memorial in Washington yesterday. The memorial is technically closed due to the government shutdown, but was opened on Tuesday and yesterday for visiting veteran groups. Photograph: Reuters
The second World War memorial in Washington has become a beachhead in the fightback against political paralysis on Capitol Hill and the government shutdown that closed the monument for a time.
The brief closure of the memorial, one of the monuments along Washington’s National Mall, to war veterans on Tuesday was used by Democrats and Republicans to attack each other in the blame game over which side was responsible for the first shutdown of the government since 1996.
Veterans, holding signs berating politicians, continued to access the memorial yesterday after 92 war veterans from Mississippi broke through barriers on Tuesday in a gesture that has come to symbolise public frustration with Congress. Politicians from both parties visited veterans at the monument.
In an attempt to deflect blame for the shutdown, Republicans in the House of Representatives tried to pass Bills to reopen veteran services and the National Park Service, which manages the monument. But Democrats blocked votes on the
plans, insisting that an
unconditional stopgap budget be passed.
The Republican majority leader in the House, Eric Cantor, said in a message posted on Twitter that “our nation’s veterans deserve to be honoured and respected, not locked out of their memorial”.
Democratic senator Dick Durbin told reporters he had spoken to war veterans at the memorial “who risked their lives decades ago, who cannot understand what is going on here in Washington”.
With tensions high, Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid reacted angrily to a question about whether Democrats would agree to a Republican Bill on reopening clinics to treat children with cancer that were closed by the shutdown.
“It’s time for Republicans to stop throwing one crazy idea after another at the wall in hopes that something will stick,” he said.