The federal government remains partially shutdown for the third time since President Donald Trump took office — but this time it’s different. Democrats took their place as the new U.S. House majority this past week, and the new House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has announced intent to investigate the Interior Department skirting the traditional funding mechanisms and using visitor fees to keep national parks functional during the shutdown.
‘President Trump and his advisors apparently just woke up to the fact that the shutdown they created several weeks ago has done terrible damage to our country. This is not how a rational president behaves, and the Natural Resources Committee will demand answers about whether these moves are legally justified.’
Normally, the money that the Interior Department has announced plans to funnel into basic maintenance for national parks across the United States is not under their immediate control in such a manner. Instead, it’s left for a general fund that’s used for a variety of costs across the operations of the U.S. government.
In recent weeks, reports have emerged of unruly waste facilities and similar issues. A handful of people have even died on national park grounds, and although certain areas are always treacherous, what’s to say that having trained staff on hand wouldn’t have helped in at least one of those cases? NBC notes that:
‘Many of the thousands of national park rangers are on furlough because of the shutdown that began Dec. 22, making conditions in parks more dangerous and affecting the capacity to conduct timely rescues.’
Although they only made their move official recently as reports of issues at national parks piled up, the Interior Department had previously developed a shutdown contingency plan that outlined using the fees to keep up the basic needs of the national parks, no matter what more long term issue they’d originally been meant for. Now, the money will be going to pay staff they want to keep on the job to maintain the integrity of the parks.
Across the federal government, hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain in limbo as President Trump continues to refuse to approve any government funding without billions of dollars included for a border wall blocking off Mexico that he’s long sought.
It’s old news, but it remains ironic that this issue is unfolding considering Trump’s past insistence that Mexico would pay for his racist vanity project. Now, through word salad and mental gymnastics, Trump says they are thanks to his trade policies — and yet he’s still standing up Congress and the American people anyway. Go figure.
He has insisted that the affected government workers, including those to be provided for by the newly reappropriated Interior Department funds, are on his side despite basically no evidence suggesting as much. In reality, an ever growing crater is stretching across America as workers lose their paychecks, the transactions that money would have been used for never materialize, and so on. Americans who don’t even work for the government but rely on services like food stamps and tax refunds also stand to be negatively affected.
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