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House Republicans Probe Parks and Monument 'Shutdown Theater' Closures

Republicans on both the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee  are looking into the the Obama administration’s decision to shut down national parks and monuments unnecessarily, closures that are becoming known as “Shutdown Theater”. 

Via Fox News:

Senior Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee sent a letter Wednesday to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis asking him to retain all documents related to the “arbitrary” closures of open-air monuments and parks in the nation’s capital.

The committee is considering hearings to determine whether the Obama administration ordered the “outrageous” closures in an attempt to “make the current lapse in appropriations as conspicuous and painful to the public as possible,” according to the letter from chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and subcommittee chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah.

“The Park Service’s decision to barricade the open-air memorials from veterans and other Americans flies in the face of common sense, given their interest in visiting memorials that honor their service and sacrifice to the country,” the lawmakers wrote.

Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is looking into the National Parks Service’s decision to barricade national monuments. 

Chairman Darrell Issa and Subcommittee Chairman John Mica sent a letter to NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis demanding more information about the closures.

“The Committee is concerned with NPS’s allocation of resources during this time of lapsed funding,” the chairmen write in a letter to NPS director Jonathan Jarvis. “Numerous media outlets have reported that NPS has erected barricades to keep people from entering the National World War II Memorial and other monuments,” despite the fact that the memorial is open 24 hours a day and is “unimpeded by fences, barricades, or other obstructions.”

“Our concerns are heightened due to NPS’s suspicious decisions during the lead-up to the sequester,” the letter states. “This past spring the Committee uncovered evidence that NPS’s budgetary decisions were designed to intentionally cause the most disruption to the public in a time of reduced funding.”

The letter continues, “Information presented to the Committee suggested budget adjustments resulting in obvious hardship or displeasure for the public were chosen in lieu of more prudent measures. Specifically, the Committee received information that proposed budget adjustments submitted by an NPS official in the field to deal with sequestration impacts were rejected by NPS superiors in favor of cuts that would be more visible and disruptive.”

The Committee originally wrote to Jarvis about the agency’s response to budget cuts mandated by sequestration on March 27, 2013 and held a hearing on the topic on April 16, 2013. Following the hearing, the Committee sent a letter to the Department of the Interior regarding specially made signs which seemed to advertise park closures due to sequestration. Jarvis, at the hearing, that such signs were “inappropriate” and should be taken down.

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