October 2nd, 2013
04:25 PM ET
11 months 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. Lenny Pincus

    I seriously doubt that republicans are American anymore.

    October 3, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  2. Sophie Meyer

    It's truly distasteful to see the people that caused the shutdown in the first place using veterans for a photo op. Their hypocrisy is appalling. The republicans know no shame.

    October 3, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  3. Michael Benjamin

    An expected move from the RNC hypocrites. Our veterans should tell the RNC to stuff it. Fund the government, let the workers do their jobs.

    October 3, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  4. Marty Says Shrink Government more

    Lets make this shutdown PERMANENT. Balance the budget, cut spending, payback our National debt.

    Stand strong, Republicans!!

    October 3, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  5. cgs

    This makes president BO look very foolish and petty. The buck stops with him.

    October 3, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  6. KING-JOW, Lagos

    The consequences of this shutdown may be far more than expected not only on USA but also on the entire global scene. We are just recovering from the economic meltdown, and now confronted with a shutdown. Why is everything pointing "down and down" for America? The power of the USD is also going down. I implore all concerned both in the Republican and the Democrats to bury their hatchets and let not only the US but also the entire world move forward.

    October 3, 2013 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  7. Roger

    It seems that the only thing these Far Righters know how to do is spend MONEY for POLITICAL ADVANTAGE. Their answer is to BUY'IM OFF. Bachman was tipical Bachman. Lets USE THESE WW11 VETS to make the President look bad. NO suprize there.

    October 3, 2013 04:48 am at 4:48 am |
  8. WKNDTHG

    Come on guys. The rethuglicans have finally come up with a jobs bill! One that will produce real jobs (5), don't be so hard on them. Give it time, it might just work. It's a beginning anyway.

    October 3, 2013 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  9. David lLopatkovich

    Tell the GOP to pay for all the memorials. The Wall, Gettysburg and all of them. Pass a clean CR. after that you all can continue your idiocy

    October 3, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  10. StagedForSure

    Paying for scabs to come in and take the place of people that were put out of a job, can't pay their bills on time, can't buy groceries for their family, never did anything to deserve this except take a job like anyone else would if given the chance. Many of whom are veterans seeing how the fed is the largest employer of veterans. Another slap in the face to America and Americans who just want to be able to work and pay into the economy like everyone else does. These people are are tax payers just like anyone else. The government was supposed to be "for the people, by the people". It's absolutely sickening how a hand full of rouge libertarians running under the banner "tea party" along with their republican enablers are destroying this nation with anarchy. We need to vote out the " tea party", and the GOP that supports them in 2014/2016!

    October 3, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  11. seanster5977

    You really have to be ignorant to support democrats.

    October 3, 2013 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  12. sifto

    shame on democrats–creating a problem for men who fought for Americans freedom..never has been guards at the memorial–how vindictive can the dems get? you have seen it....imagine what will happen if you choose not to sign up for obamacare?

    October 3, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  13. Paylin

    How about paying me back my federal income taxes too

    October 3, 2013 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  14. Janet

    Just a publicity ploy by the GOP – it's their fault the shutdown took place. However, it's just much more "feel good" for them to surround themselves with vets (I am a vet myself) for a photo shoot instead of the hungry children and pregnant women who are going without food due to the "testosterone party"'s stupidity (oh, I forgot, as far as the GOP is concerned the women, infants and children don't matter because thet are no longer embryos)

    October 3, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  15. Nick

    Why do you need guards for an open-air memorial? Don't tell me vandalism, as then you would need 24/7 coverage and a few barriers are useless, as the vets demonstrated the other day when they simply shoved them aside.

    October 3, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  16. Maryellen

    I watched Priebus on television and I wanted to throw up. wow, what hero's. You guys are clearly at fault and are clearly leaving so many deserving operations behind, why not pay to keep everything open. The GOP has become a pathetic bunch of morons!

    October 3, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  17. ShawnDH

    Meanwhile...nearly a millopn people are out of work with no pay and the US economy is losing $300,000,000 a day. All because Republicans don't have the votes to change a law. Thanks losers.

    October 3, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  18. ksot

    How many federal employees have family members who are sick, how many are veterans who faught in wars. Seems like the GOP only cares about personal problems that they can get on the news to make people think they are the good guys. dis·gust·ing

    October 3, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. KWhite

    RNC, shame on you. You don't get your way so you throw a temper tantrum. Get to work, bring the government back up and stop acting like a bunch of two year old babies. Funding vets at a memorial is not going to improve your 90% disapproval rate. It is an empty stupid gesture that does not even deserve press.

    October 3, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  20. Ed fro Ohio

    The whole thing is funny .lets stop the blame game . Americans are stupid , i asked people if they prefer obamacare or the afordable care act and most idiots picked one. Im ashamed

    October 3, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  21. Jerry

    I love and respect those veterans!!! ¡Adelante! Tell Obama and his misguided minions/supporters to shove the barricades where the sun don't shine.

    I am not a Republican, but the fact is that Democrats are always crucifying the Republicans and then when the s... hits the fan, they want (demand) Republicans to support their idiotic/misguided proposals.

    After what happened to CNN's Dana Bash, who has REALLY declared war on women?! Where are all the noisy women supporters?! Every thing is just dandy with Democrats until citizens/reporters ask a question that Democrats don't want the populace to hear or they don't want answer.

    This is true of the Shielded-in-Chief (Obama) and and ALL his midgets!

    BOTTOM LINE: Democrats share equal (if not more) blame for the shutdown!!! I really hope the Américan populace don't easily forget this!

    October 3, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  22. keven

    How generous of the RNC to pay for a couple guards! How about paying for all the Veteran services that are not being processed because of this childish vendetta against Obama?
    Oh that's right, that wasn't in the news !
    RNC is pathetic !

    October 3, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Why am I not surprised to see Mr. Priebus behind this latest stunt Republican? It's bad enough that they want to be hypocrites by accusing Democrats of not caring for kids with cancer, while providing no funding for WIC or SNAP. Now they want to wrap themselves in the American flag, while they continue to hold the country hostage to their demands to gut the ACA.

    This is not how democracy is supposed to work. This is what authoritarians do to bolster their power.

    October 3, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    Simon Lloyd
    Are they kidding? THIS IS WHAT THEY OFFER TO FUND, with their ENDLESS campaign money.
    ------

    To be fair, and to put the RNC offer into perspective, the GOP is pushing the talking point that only memorials and parks are being adversely affected by our government shutdown. Indeed. GOP talking points do not call it a shutdown. It is being termed either a slim-down or a slow-down, depending on what outlet you listen to or read. Apparently Preibus has no trouble using our WWII vets as his stooges to try and get that point across through his (rather obvious) propaganda talking points.

    October 3, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Jerry wrote:

    BOTTOM LINE: Democrats share equal (if not more) blame for the shutdown!!! I really hope the Américan populace don't easily forget this!
    -------------
    Tell that to Grover Norquist. He blames the Tea Party and the weak Republican leadership in the Congress for allowing themselves to be intimidated by and run rough shod by a minority faction of extremists.

    October 3, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
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