Republicans acted swiftly and decisively Wednesday afternoon amid public outrage over veterans being denied visits to U.S. monuments honoring their service.
Rep. John Mica of Florida called for the firing of National Park Service officials and other administration employees who blocked the World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington on Tuesday, after a group of lawmakers stepped in to cut police tape and push barriers away in defiance, The Hill reported
Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was at the World War II Memorial on Wednesday afternoon to offer to pay for keeping the monument open so vets could have dignified trips to Washington.
"Make no mistake: it was the Obama admin's CHOICE to barricade this memorial. It was their CHOICE to lock out our veterans," Priebus tweeted.
Priebus held aloft a check as he spoke to veterans at the memorial, expressing deep concern for what he thinks is wrongful treatment of them, most of whom are in their 80s and 90s and making a final visit to Washington via the nonprofit Honor Flight group.
More than 3,500 veterans are planning to make such flights to Washington in October, the group told Newsmax, amid fears the shutdown might force them to cancel.
The RNC offered to pay for security at the monument to keep it open to all visitors during the government shutdown, USA Today reported
Republicans see closing the monument as a national disgrace and an insult to the nation's military heroes. The fight to keep the site open has become a symbol of the impact of the stalemate that has shuttered federal offices, closed national parks and left many workers without pay.
Mica on Tuesday took to the House floor to denounce treatment of the veterans and being forced to move barricades on what, for many, amounts to final visits to memorials honoring World War II, Vietnam, and Korea.
"First of all, maybe we need to get a new Interior [secretary] and [National] Parks director and fire those folks or furlough those folks that can't leave public spaces and memorials open to the public," Mica chided from the House floor, calling the treatment of the aging vets "one of the most appalling things I've seen."
"How offensive could you be? How much more pain do you want to inflict on the American people?" he fumed, charging the Obama administration with inflicting deliberate pain to make the shutdown harder to bear.
"I've been around here a long time. I've never seen an operation like this," the lawmaker said.
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