October 2nd, 2013
04:25 PM ET
5 years ago

RNC offers to pay for WWII memorial guards

Washington (CNN) – The Republican National Committee is offering the United States government a check to pay for guards at the National World War II Memorial, chairman Reince Priebus announced Wednesday.

"We're willing to pay the bill," said Priebus, who was speaking to reporters as he stood in front of a fence at the memorial.

The memorial had been the site of a dramatic encounter Tuesday between visiting World War II veterans and a fence erected to keep visitors out. The National Parks Service argued the government shutdown left them with no personnel to guard and maintain the open air memorial.

According to Priebus, the RNC is willing to pay for five guards who would watch over the memorial, what the party committee estimated to be a $150,000 expenditure for 30 days, Priebus said.

Priebus also invited the Democratic National Committee to help pay for the proposed security at the memorial.

The memorial fence has become a flashpoint in the shutdown debate, with Democrats blaming Republican intransigence for forcing all national parks, including the memorial on the National Mall, to close down.

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The DNC quickly responded to the Republican proposal by calling it a "stunt."

"We've already been working on a plan to open the Memorial - and the entire government - after the GOP caused them to close. It's called a clean funding resolution and it sounds like the votes are there if the Speaker would just call for a vote," DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee said in a statement.

"It would save the economy a lot of money and get the Memorial and government open a whole lot faster. I think he probably has Speaker Cruz Boehner's number somewhere, and I'll bet veterans would appreciate it a whole lot more than his silly stunt."

Democrats have accused Boehner of weak leadership, cowtowing to tea party Republicans led in part by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Republicans in turn have blasted President Barack Obama's administration for closing off open air memorials that do not have staff 24/7, but that visitors can walk up to any hour of the day.

Priebus accused the administration of wantonly keeping out the World War II veterans.

"It was the Obama administration's choice to block this memorial," Priebus said.

"The president himself promised to veto legislation that would keep our monuments open," he said, in reference to the piecemeal funding measures introduced yesterday in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives. Those measures, which would have funded national parks, veterans' benefits and the Washington, D.C. local government, failed to get the two-thirds majority they needed to pass Tuesday.

Obama has promised to veto any piecemeal funding legislation and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the approach was not serious. Senate Democrats have managed to hold firm against anything other than a "clean" funding resolution that provides money for the entire government, including Obamacare.

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Priebus said donors to the RNC would be "happy" to fund guards for the memorial.

"Our donors have had it with a stubborn Democratic party who've been offered one deal after the next by the Republicans in the House," Priebus said.

Priebus charged that Democrats "don't want to keep the parks open," he said. "They want to make it painful."

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For now, it appears that the World War II and other memorials will remain closed, albeit with far less effort made at keeping people out.

"Without staff or funding to ensure the safety of visitors, the security of the memorials, and the continued operation and maintenance of park facilities, the memorials on the National Mall – just like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon – are closed," National Park Service Spokeswoman Carol Johnson said in a statement.

"The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks."

Honor Flights is a non-profit organization that provides free transportation to aging military veterans who want to visit the World War Two Memorial.

soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Maybe Ted Nugent can do something useful

    October 2, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Econ301

    Does the RNC want to buy the WWII Memorial from the Government, and be responsible for all care, maintenance, and protection of the WWII Memorial? If so I'd say let them.

    October 2, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Samca

    Republicans, pass a clean CR and stop trying to bully your way to getting what you want.

    October 2, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. g

    Egypt has the muslin brother hood america has the tea party-there goal is the same

    October 2, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  5. Thomas

    How selective !

    Ted Cruz should pay out of his pocket , I'd like to see how much he and his friends will exploit do to the shutdown

    TeaParty , betting short on America .

    October 2, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    This is bunch of BS and nothing but a stunt by Priebus -AkA- Nucky Thompson and his gang of thugs. if you can pay for the memorial to be open, how about you pay for the people who are really hurting. We can care less about a frickin park. People need to work. DO YOUR JOB!!!!

    October 2, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. GOP =Greed Over People

    Just another ploy to open the parts of the government of which the GOP approves.

    Just say, nope to the GOP!

    October 2, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Mikey

    This grandstanding is pretty sickening. Yesterday, a bunch of Republican House members went to the memorial to talk about how terrible it was the memorial was closed... right after they forced the shutdown. Who did that!!!!!! LOL

    Perhaps the RNC wants to pay to reopen all the museums on the DC Mall and Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the rest of the National Parks. It would be like the wealthy were paying their fair share of taxes.


    October 2, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Ragatang

    Can RNC donors also pay for workers at the Yellowstone and Grand Canyon? Please tell Priebus, there are some Americans waiting there too.

    October 2, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Darlene

    I can't stand this little weasel...

    October 2, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. don in albuquerque

    How absolutely disgusting. At the behest of the Tea Baggers and the Koch Bros., the RNC, GOTP, or whatever they label themselves as today put 850,000 out of work but they want to pay to keep people working at the Memorial. That is called showboating, and in this case it is loathsome. They sse too have no idea that Tea Party values are what started WWII. Or do they?

    October 2, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. sonny chapman

    The Repubs. pick the things that they want to fund. The Dems. pick the things that they want to fund. We are no longer a NATION. Just Two Tribes.

    October 2, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. Joan

    This is just another smoke screen by the Republicans to try and look like the heroes. Don't forget everything was shut down in the first place because of their ideological grandstanding. They started all of this mess and they can help to solve it by passing a clean CR and raising the debt ceilting. Their reputation and credibility is already severely damaged and no-one is going to forget it. If they think people will forget, they are sadly mistaken.

    October 2, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Mikey

    "According to Priebus, the RNC is willing to pay for five guards who would watch over the memorial, what the party committee estimated to be a $150,000 expenditure for 30 days, Priebus said."
    5 guards for 10 hours a day for 30 days would come to $100 per hour. Let me guess – an RNC donor owns the rent-a-cop business they will steer the $$ to. Haliburton?? Blackwater (or whatever it's called these days)??

    October 2, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. John in Brooklyn

    The GOP doesn't get it. You don't get to CHOOSE where your tax money goes. If you're a pacifist, your tax dollars still go to the military. If you oppose Obamacare, your tax dollars still go to fund it. We walk a very dangerous path when the GOP decides that it's OK to privately fund the functions of the US government according to their own ideology, as opposed to actually governing. This is simply stupid pandering.

    October 2, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. jinx9to88

    They should!!!! Their the reason its closed. They make me sick!!!

    October 2, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Look at us we're the good guys!
    We're going to pay out of our own pocket to keep this park open for our veterans....nevermind the fact that the people that support and take care of these veterans don't have a job to go to because we shut down the government...but look at the pretty memorial site they will be able to take them to now that they don't have job to go to....nice right?!

    October 2, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. John in Brooklyn

    Hey RNC...why not focus on making sure that Medicare, Social Security, and VA health services are secured – these are by far more important to the vast majority of WWII veterans than the memorial in Washington. This is a silly stunt of wrapping themselves in false patriotism when , in fact, they hate the government that these men and women fought for.

    October 2, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Meanwhile, the main group that brought the WWII vets to see the memorial was busy saying just how much the national parks people "ben over backwards for us" and that "We don’t need representatives, senators anybody here" (quotes from Jeff Miller, co-founder of Honor Flights Network). This offer from the RNC is nothing more than showboating and trying to score cheap political points as if the closing of national parks wasn't a 100% foreseeable consequence of their ultimatums and hostage taking that led to the shutdown. CNN doesn't want you to know about the fact that the veterans groups appreciated what the administration was doing for them...no no...they want you to ride the nontroversy train to hypeville.

    October 2, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. Michael

    Honestly, I can care less about national monuments and parks right now. It's unfortunate coincidence that our vets were going to the memorial. What I do care about is Congress gets its act together and pass a budget.

    October 2, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. lolo

    Ladida, that is how war mongers think. Forget everybody else. The have got to try to get votes anyway they can for 2014 by hook or crook. They know that they are going down fast. So now they are trying to use our military veterans to get support. The Tea Party is nothing but a bunch of cowards.

    October 2, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. lolo

    Forget paying for security at the war memorial. What they afraid someone is going to steal a statue. What about people who do not have a pay check coming in because of their nonsense. It would be even better if they gave up their health insurance and salaries. Now that would make a big impression for their minions. They are not doing their jobs anyway, so why pay them?

    October 2, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Doug in NYC

    Awww, how cute. However as mentioned by Mikey, are the guards they intend to pay the ones who usually work there and government guards, that are in a union? Or are they going to hire a private firm owned by their masters and are only paid minimum wage?

    I say all GOP Reps and Senators who voted for this shut down, forfit their salaries, office costs, and travel allowances for the duration of the shut down, with no hope of getting any back pay!

    October 2, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Econ301

    So they want to pay people so they can have people keep watch,

    Who are they going to pay to pick up trash and keep it clean (What's there plan for that)
    Who are they going to change the light bulbs and water pumps and pay for maintenance. (What is there plan for that)

    Oh they don't want to run It like a business, and think the only cost is the cost to watch the people...

    Wanting to pay for some but not all of the costs... seems about right...

    Um...well I guess that does tell us something.

    October 2, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. O'drama ya Mama

    Anything to make them look innocent...why dont they extend an olive branch in a different direction?

    October 2, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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